Email, it’s the granddaddy of messaging apps. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a little nudge into the teens… the tens… whatever we’re calling this decade. AOL’s Alto is exactly that, a modern email client that extracts all the useful info tucked away within it, putting it front and center in a Google Now-like “Dashboard.” Today, it’s getting a little more up to date, with hooks into Amazon’s ubiquitous Alexa, and the work-chat du jour, Slack.
Using Alto with Alexa is pretty much what you’d imagine. Instead of thumbing through your email (or Dashboard) for vital info, you just ask Amazon’s virtual assistant to do it for you. The commands available seem pretty varied with general requests such as “Read me the most important emails in my Dashboard” (Alto determines what you think is important). You can also be more specific, such as asking when you’re next flight is. All without putting down your tea and toast.
As for Slack fans, you’ll be able to pull in documents, images and any other important files without leaving the app (using slash commands). In the demo video below, you can see our happy Alto user sending an important presentation to a colleague before heading off on vacation without taking his gaze off of his current chat window.
This sort of integration is clearly a way for Alto to stand out from the growing number of “intelligent” inboxes. Not least Google’s very own Inbox app. I’ve been using the latter for a few months now, and the amount of time and frustration it solves by the way it organizes my email is one thing, but deeper features like location-based reminders (telling me to get milk when I am at the store), or easy access to my travel agenda makes the email app a cure for, rather than source of anxiety. With more integrations for AOL’s solution due in “the coming months,” it looks like Alto’s on track to rival Google at its own game.
Via: The Verge
Uber may have already jumped into the logistics and trucking business with its purchase of Otto’s self-driving truck platform, but as one of the biggest shippers in the country, Amazon can’t afford to sit back on its heels. As Business Insider reports today, Jeff Bezos and company are building their own in-house “Uber for trucking” app meant to connect truck drivers with cargo and secure Amazon’s place in a massive $800 billion industry.
The app is slated to launch in the summer of 2017 and, like Uber and Otto’s own efforts, its meant to eliminate third party freight brokers and their pricey commissions — which is obviously beneficial for a high-volume retailer like Amazon. On a more local scale Amazon’s trucking app sounds similar to the expanded Amazon Flex program, which allows anyone to pick up shifts as Amazon delivery drivers using their private vehicle. According to Business Insider, the trucking app will go the extra mile for truck drivers too, offering real-time pricing, driving directions and recommendations of the best truck stops along the route.
Altogether, the app aims to streamline the shipping process and brings Amazon even closer to its goal of controlling every step in the delivery and broadening its reach as a logistics company. Earlier this year, the internet retail giant announced it was getting into oceanic freight and would lease 40 cargo planes over the next few years in order to help it boost shipping speeds. Finally, according to estimates from investment bank RBC Capital Markets, Amazon is also expected to exceed Fedex’s daily package volume in the next three years and will overtake UPS sometime in the next seven — meaning there should be plenty of cargo to keep its driver-partners busy.
Source: Business Insider
Twitch wants vloggers to leave YouTube and Facebook Live behind. The Amazon-owned video streaming site is launching a new “IRL” section that will allow allow streamers to share their experiences at events, on trips abroad or even just to document their day-to-day lives. Videos can either be live streamed or uploaded for on-demand viewing, and from next year users will also be able to use their smartphone cameras to broadcast through the Twitch mobile app.
To date, Twitch has mostly focused on live content relating to video games. This isn’t the first step it’s taken to remove itself from that niche, but it’s certainly the most significant. Previously capitalizing on its community’s love of cosplay, the site launched the gaming-inspired arts and crafts category, Twitch Creative, before testing more mainstream waters with its social eating channel. Twitch has also been slowly adding uploaded videos to its repertoire over the past year, although that feature remains in beta.
Adding the ability to upload vlogs is a clear attempt to steal some of YouTube’s market. YouTube has been pushing its gaming-specific service hard over the past year, and recently beat Twitch to 4K streaming.
Mobile broadcasting is also a big deal for Twitch. After the success of Facebook Live and Periscope, the company is playing catch up a little, but it’s also ensuring that successful streamers on the platform keep all of their content inside Twitch.
With these markets already cornered by Facebook and YouTube respectively, though, enticing non-gamers to start using the platform may prove difficult.
Aaron Souppouris contributed to this article.
Now that the Amazon Echo is available in the UK, lots of brands and services have been working on introducing their own Alexa Skills. Owners can ask the intelligent digital assistant for news updates, to hail an Uber and even re-order their favourite takeaway, but one important feature has been missing: IFTTT integration. US owners have enjoyed IFTTT integration for over a year, but the recipe-based service has finally confirmed the launch of its Alexa channel in the UK.
Connecting everything up is as simple as visiting the Alexa channel and following the prompts. It’ll first request access to Alexa, which requires logging into the Amazon account linked with the Echo, and then ask to integrate with the chosen service. Currently, the channel hosts recipes that allow interaction with Hue lights, Samsung’s SmartThings hub, smart thermostats, Evernote, Spotify and Google Drive.
The beauty of IFTTT is that the community can create their own recipes, which are then shared with other users. The channel provides a basic list of options but tinkerers may be able to come up with other truly useful ideas.
The day has come: We’re thrilled to let you know that the Amazon Alexa service will now works in the UK! 🇬🇧 🙌 🎉 https://t.co/mSmcLd3P36
— IFTTT (@IFTTT) December 14, 2016
Source: IFTTT Alexa Channel
Pizza Hut recently debuted a chatbot to help you with a delivery order, but the restaurant chain is putting Amazon’s virtual assistant to work for the same task. Alexa’s newest skill includes the ability to order your pizza via voice integration on the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV and Fire tablets. While the menu options for placing an order from scratch are a bit limited, Alexa can access your favorite items and past orders as well.
The pizza chain says you’ll be able to use Alexa to place an order starting December 15th. When the time comes, all you’ll have to do it say “Alexa, open Pizza Hut” or “Alexa, ask Pizza Hut for a pizza” to start the process. Pizza Hut has been giving customers alternate methods for ordering for quite some time, including an app for Xbox in case hunger overtakes you mid-game. Earlier this year, the company also debuted the so-called Visual Promise Time tool that lets you know when your food will arrive before you place an order.
Since launching it in 2015, Amazon has been improving its voice-controlled home assistant Echo, from adding thousands of recipe walkthroughs to releasing its hockey puck-sized sibling, the Dot. But soon the device will be moving in to hotel rooms, too. The Wynn Las Vegas will begin outfitting all 4,748 guest rooms with an Echo this month, allowing visitors to control environmental conditions with vocal commands.
The suites will get Amazon’s domestic device first, rolling out to the whole hotel by next summer. Just don’t expect your room’s Echo to help you plan your day, as they’ll only be set to voice-control lights, room temperature, drapes and the TV to begin. Future features may include the device’s fancier personal assistant features, according to the press release.
Source: PR Newswire
It’s already been three years since Amazon first revealed its somewhat audacious plan to make deliveries by drone. But the company is quite serious about this, and today it is announcing that it complete the first Amazon Prime Air drone-powered delivery. The company recently launched a trial in Cambridge, England — and on December 7th, Amazon completed its first drone-powered delivery. It took 13 minutes from order to delivery, with the drone departing a custom-built fulfillment center nearby.
Amazon’s video about the project says that it’s only servicing a few customers in the area right now, but will soon be open to dozens more who live within a few miles of the Cambridge fulfillment center. Naturally, this center is custom-built to handle these types of orders — once an order is placed and packaged up, the drone is loaded up and sent out from the facility on a motorized track. From takeoff, it flies at heights up to 400 feet to make the delivery and then return to the facility.
This Cambridge beta program has been in the works for a long time now; recently it was revealed that Amazon has been operating a secret lab in the area to get ready for the launch of Prime Air. Amazon’s page detailing this first delivery notes that the company also has Prime Air labs in the US, Austria and Israel as well as the United Kingdom, so we may hear news about test deliveries in those areas sooner or later as well.
Amazon’s FAQ page answers a few other questions about its drone delivery system. For starters, drones are only allowed to fly during daylight hours when its sunny — rain, snow or icy conditions will ground them. As for how Amazon’s drones will work in airspaces with other vehicles, the company says it believes drones should operate in a separate airspace where only small unmanned vehicles can operate. Amazon says airspace access should be “determined by capability” — the company envisions the low altitude space it is operating in should be reserved exclusively for drones similar to what it plans to deploy.
With only a couple customers able to receive drone deliveries, we’re still a long way out from this becoming a reality. But just a few years ago some thought CEO Jeff Bezos’ plan was just a joke — but it now appears to be a very real part of Amazon’s plans. The company says that “one day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road.” It’s a big goal, but it’s going to be a lot harder to manage drone deliveries in London than it is in the peaceful pastures of Cambridge.
For years, Amazon has used its video streaming service as a carrot to get customers to sign up to its annual Prime subscription. It meant that viewers who didn’t live in one of Amazon’s supported countries couldn’t watch the retail giant’s original TV shows and movies without having to resort to alternative means. With Jeremy Clarkson and co. now on the service following the big-budget debut of The Grand Tour, Amazon has decided to fully engage Netflix and spin out its streaming service, today launching Prime Video in “200 countries and territories” around the world with a low introductory price of $3/€3 per month.
As a standalone service, Prime Video takes the experience that Prime customers are used to and places much of it on a separate website. Subscribers can watch TV shows and movies in English, with many subtitled and dubbed in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Customers who are subscribed to Prime in Belgium, Canada, France, India, Italy and Spain will immediately get access to Prime Video from today, with all content available via the Prime Video iOS, Android and smart TV apps.
Amazon’s expansion has been on the cards since Clarkson, Hammond and May confirmed that their new motoring show would “soon be available to everyone” last month. It means that the company is a streaming provider in its own right and provides Netflix, which launched in more than 130 countries this year, with some much-needed competition.
If you live in one of the 19 countries or territories where Prime Video comes bundled as standard, you will continue to be directed to your regional Amazon portal to watch content online. As for that $3/€3 monthly introductory price, it’s available for the first six months but you’ll be bumped up to $6/€6 a month once it expires. It’s unclear whether US customers will enjoy lower monthly Prime Video memberships (currently $9 a month) — we’ve contacted Amazon and will clarify once we know more.
Source: Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video launched in India today, featuring a local content catalog and an introductory offer for an annual Prime subscription (via Mashable).
The video streaming service is available in India as part of Amazon Prime, launched in the country earlier in the year. Prime costs Rs 999 ($15) for an annual subscription, but to celebrate the launch of Prime Video, Amazon is currently offering annual membership to new customers at the heavily discounted price of Rs 499 ($7.5).
That makes Prime Video the least expensive streaming video service in the country by some margin, with similar service Netflix costing Rs 500 on a rolling monthly basis.
The aggressive pricing strategy indicates Amazon’s continuing eagerness to make deep inroads into the Indian market. The company has been busy acquiring rights to local content over the last few months, and has partnered with several major Bollywood studios and distributors to make titles available exclusively on Prime Video.
The catalog in Amazon Prime Video contains titles in several Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu, as well as an English section featuring many popular U.S. shows.
Tags: Amazon, India, Amazon Prime Video
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Amazon today introduced a new app called “Amazon App: Browse, Search, and Shop,” which is designed to let users look for and purchase items from Amazon.com.
Anyone can use Amazon’s new app to browse through and search for products using dictation, but to make a purchase, an Amazon Prime membership is required. Amazon Prime costs $99 per year and offers benefits like Amazon Video and free two-day shipping.
Amazon App includes product details, reviews, and “immersive” product images and videos, all of which can be viewed on the television screen. Purchases are made using the Apple TV remote, but users can also add items to a list to purchase later via an iPhone or computer.
Many Apple TV owners have long been hoping for an app that brings Amazon’s Prime Video offerings to Apple’s set-top box, but this is not that app. It’s limited to shopping only.
Amazon’s new app can be downloaded on fourth-generation Apple TV models for free.
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