From Smart Speaker to Potential Phone Replacement: Amazon Echo and Google Home

The article on Engadget titled Amazon Echo and Google Home Want to Be Your New House Phone consider the perks and downsides of Amazon and Google adding making and receiving phone calls to the functions of their respective smart speakers. The article states,

Amazon and Google could introduce the ability to make and receive calls on their respective platforms later this year. The companies could make use of their existing communication platforms, since Amazon already has the business-focused videoconferencing tool Chime. Meanwhile, Google has Hangouts, Duo, and… Google Voice. Incorporating existing VoIP services like Skype and Vonage into their devices may be another way to go. Echo and Home could also have their own phone numbers, or the option to sync an existing number…

So what is standing in the way of this major cell phone disruption? Privacy concerns, for one thing. A key part of the technology of both platforms is a constant recording microphone ready to be activated by the proper voice command at any moment. The article points out that the eavesdropping data saved by one of these devices is already embroiled in an Arkansas murder investigation. There are other issues, like the device potentially failing to differentiate between a command and a term mentioned in a phone conversation, but privacy is the one that might actually prevent customers from buying the technology.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 7, 2017

The Sellers Guide to Winning over Amazon Alexa

The article titled The Complete Guide to Amazon Alexa SEO on Search Engine Journal positions Amazon as ahead of the smart home curve with their digital assistant, Alexa. The bulk of the article is dedicated to helping third-party sellers improve their search rank so that Alexa chooses their product. Of course, Alexa can help you purchase something on Amazon, and even recommend specific brands and products based on the keywords she is given. The article states,

Amazon has already confirmed that Amazon’s Choice is the program that determines which products Alexa purchases for users. While there is currently no option to submit a product to the Amazon’s Choice program, the company has revealed some of the requirements for being chosen. We know that the product needs to be available via Prime through the Fulfillment by Amazon or through the Seller Fulfilled Prime program to be eligible… Amazon also looks at price, rating, reviews and shipping speed.

Other important markers include sellers that have a history of buyers. Conversion rates also play into this in the Amazon algorithm, and the article details the best way to send potential buyers to Amazon when they are ready to make a purchase. As far as SEO, the best practices include using images, following Amazon’s title formula, and the inclusion of relevant keywords. Read the full article to get more tips on how to strategically optimize your Amazon page.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 6, 2017

Samsung Bixby a Versatile Linguist

 The Galaxy S8’s built-in personal assistant, Bixby, will lead the AI personal-assistant field in terms of the number of languages supported, according to Trusted Reviews’ article, “Samsung Could Trump Google with this Galaxy S8 Feature.” Not only Google stands to be outdone– the S8 assistant will interact in eight languages, which is seven more than Amazon’s English-only Alexa currently supports. (Reportedly, German, Chinese, and perhaps other languages are in Alexa’s near future.)

Bixby, rumor has it, is based on tech Samsung acquired when it bought Viv Labs last year. Based in San Jose, California, that company was founded in 2012 by three of the folks who’d developed Apple’s Siri.

English, Korean and Chinese will all be on board from the start, as will up to five other languages (via SamMobile). By way of comparison, Google Assistant is still only available in five languages (English, Hindi, German, Japanese and Portuguese)

 And the language race is on. This is but one aspect of the competition. Will Amazon counter Samsung’s AI precociousness by making its own microwaves and ovens for Alexa to work with? And what of Samsung’s plans to connect Bixby to appliances and wearable tech? Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, February 23, 2017