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Amazon now has its own video conferencing service called Chime

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Amazon is taking on Skype and other online conferencing services with its own video chat solution. It’s called Chime and as with most other similar services, it allows users to start or join both video as well as voice calls. It’s primarily targeted at business, but as a clean, easy to use online communication tool it will likely appeal to plenty of folks.

Amazon Chime offers a bunch of different features including a visual rooster showing who joined the meeting, who is running late, and who won’t be able to make it. The tool also lets everyone know who is talking and where the annoying background noise that is interrupting the meeting is coming from. Any user can then mute that participant in order to eliminate the noise.

Amazon’s new communication tool allows users to share their screen as well as different content with the rest of the group. The software also notifies participants when it’s time for the meeting and lets them join in with a single click — no PIN code required. You can use the tool on both your PC as well as on an Android device.

See also:

Microsoft begins testing Skype voice translation to mobile and landline phones

December 12, 2016

There are three versions of Amazon Chime to choose from. The Basic Edition is free of charge and allows users to join meetings, start a video or audio call, and use Amazon Chime’s messaging and chat capabilities. Then there’s the Plus Edition that adds a user management feature that costs $2.50 per user/month. It allows you to manage an entire e-mail domain, disable accounts, or configure Active Directory, among other things.

The last version is the Pro Edition that is suitable for heavy users. It will set you back $15 per user, per month, and adds the ability to host meetings with screen sharing and video for up to 100 users.

As already mentioned, Amazon’s new communication tool for businesses is already available. To learn more about it, visit its official website by clicking the button below.

Learn more about Amazon Chime

Amazon is bringing Alexa Voice Services to UK and Germany

Amazon continues to expand the reach of its popular Alexa digital assistant. Today, the company announced that its Alexa Voice Service can now be included in products that are sold specifically for the UK and Germany markets.

See also:

Alexa is the quiet star of CES

January 4, 2017

What does this mean? Amazon stated that products with Alexa support in both countries can now access localized languages and skills in the UK and Germany. For example, a customer in the UK with a product that can access AVS can issue commands, and hear voices, speaking in the UK version of English. That person can also access region skills for products and services such as MyTaxi, JustEat, the BBC, and more. They also can shop on the Amazon.co.uk site with their voice as well.

Amazon also announced today that Alexa support has also been added to the Logitech ZeroTouch air vent cart mount for Android phones for both the US and UK versions, with Germany to be added in the coming weeks. The ZeroTouch mount allows people to put a phone in their car and use it via a hand-free experience. Alexa skills can now be accessed with the phone and the car mount simply by waving a hand in front of the phone and then saying, “Alexa . . . ‘

The red and white versions of the Logitech ZeroTouch air vent cart mount are available now for $57.67 and $59.99, respectively. You can also get the black dashboard version of the ZeroTouch for $79.99.

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10 best music streaming apps and must streaming services for Android


Music streaming has grown up tremendously since its inception and is now among the best ways to listen to music. Many streaming services let you listen for free, which has helped curb the need for piracy while artists still get at least a little bit for their work. It’s also easily accessible with a ton of options. If you’re in the hunt to stream some music, here are the best music streaming apps and music streaming services for Android!


Amazon Music

Price: Free / $10.99 per month / $99.99 per year
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Amazon Music is one of the most underrated music streaming apps. It boasts tens of million songs which includes a catalog of music that you can purchase and download. You can also upload your own music and streaming it anywhere much like Google Play Music and Apple Music. On top of all of that, your Prime membership can be used for other things around the site, such as Prime Instant Video, free 2-day shipping (where applicable), and more (based on your location). It’s a solid option overall and many people already subscribe to Prime for other reasons, which makes this music streaming service basically free for those people.
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Apple Music

Price: Free / $4.99 per month / $9.99 per month / $14.99 per month for a family plan
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Apple Music exploded onto the scene in late 2015 to mixed reviews. However, it has quickly become one of the best music streaming apps out there. It features 30 million songs along with playlists, a 24/7 live radio, and you can upload your music and stream it to your device. There is also a social component where you can follow artists and see what they’re up to. It has a variety of monthly plans, including individual plans, a cheaper student plan, and a family plan that supports up to six family members. The video below shows our comparison between Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music! What it lacks in features, it makes up for in availability in many countries which makes it a great option in places where these other services don't go.
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iHeartRadio

Price: Free
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iHeartRadio is a favorite for many because it’s completely free (ad supported) and features a ton of content. The music service boasts over 1500 live radio stations that span a variety of musical genres. It also has talk radio if you’re into that and seasonal radio if you need Christmas music or similar content. You can create Custom Stations based on music you like and the service boasts a catalog of 18 million songs by 450000 artists. It doesn’t have the individual song control of Spotify or Google Play Music, but it’s right up with Pandora in terms of ease of use and convenience. It's also one of those music streaming services that are available on most platforms, even gadgets like smart TVs.
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Pandora

Price: Free / $4.99 per month / $9.99 per month
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Pandora is among the most popular music streaming apps out there. It’s supported on virtually every platform (including some vehicles) and it’s very easy to use. As a result, its popularity has skyrocketed over the years It’s a non-interactive platform which means that all you can do is skip tracks, give them a thumbs up, or give them a thumbs down. Free users can only skip so many tracks per day while paid subscribers can have unlimited skips. It’s only caveat is that it only features about one million songs (hand-picked) in their catalog. Most people don’t really notice, though. In early 2017, they will coming out with Pandora Premium, a new music streaming service that will rival the likes of Apple Music and Spotify. We included the price above ($9.99 per month), although the service won't be available at the time of this writing.
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10 best music streaming apps and must streaming services for Android

See also:

The best Android apps, ever!

1 week ago

Slacker Radio

Price: Free / $3.99 per month / $9.99 per month
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Slacker Radio is an underdog in the music streaming apps realm, but it’s actually pretty good. The free version is similar to Pandora, with limited track skipping (six per hour) and the ability to create your own stations. A $3.99 per month subscription gets you ad-free listening, unlimited song skips, and offline stations. Those that go full price will get a Spotify-like experience with on-demand song playbacks as well as handmade playlists. As a result, the service is among the most versatile out there. The only potential caveat is that it has about 12 million songs, or about one third of what Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music have.
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10 best music streaming apps and must streaming services for Android

SoundCloud

Price: Free / $9.99 per month
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SoundCloud is one of the more entertaining music streaming apps out there. For years, it was a bastion of independent media and you can find all kinds of stuff there. In early 2016, they launched SoundCloud Go, which gives you everything that SoundCloud is but also includes popular music from well-known artists. Consequently, that gives SoundCloud the largest library of them all with 125 million songs. It’s a solid overall service that also includes things like podcasts as well. You won't find a larger library of independent artists.
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10 best music streaming apps and must streaming services for Android

Spotify

Price: Free / $9.99 per month / $14.99 per month
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Spotify is pretty much the undisputed king of music streaming apps. At least, it is for right now. It features over 30 million songs in its library and also has playlists (both handmade and curated), decent discovery tools, video content, and podcasts. Hence, it’s one of the most well-rounded streaming services out there. You can use it for free and you’ll have access to playlists but you’ll need to fork out full price in order to get the entire experience. It also includes a family plan that, like Apple Music and Google Play Music, is $14.99 per month for up to six people. You can also get a discount if you're a student.
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10 best music streaming apps and must streaming services for Android

TIDAL

Price: $9.99 per month / $19.99 per month
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Tidal is another interesting music streaming service. It claims to have the highest royalty payment rate to artists and boasts a catalog of 25 million songs along with 130000 music videos. The app has had its problems in the past, but it seems like it is improving. It also features regular (lossy) streaming with a maximum of 320kbps or you can pay the $19.99 per month for the lossless (16-bit FLAC) streaming option. It also includes things like music history articles, offline mode, and more. It's perfect for audiophiles who can't keep large collections of FLAC tunes on their device. As a music streaming service, it's pretty good, but could still use some work.
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10 best music streaming apps and must streaming services for Android

TuneIn

Price: Free / $7.99 per month
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TuneIn isn’t the biggest music streaming app ever, but it has a lot to offer. It’s a radio station based service that has over 100000 radio stations that include music, talk, comedy, sports, and other types of radio stations. There are also AM and FM stations for your convenience. If you pay the $7.99 per month, you’ll get access to 600 commercial-free music stations, no banner ads, and live sports. It’s an excellent overall option because of its generous offerings, but it’s not quite as musically inclined as many others on this list. Those with a lot of varied interests should enjoy this one. However, music lovers may want to stick to Pandora or iHeartRadio.
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10 best music streaming apps and must streaming services for Android

Related best app lists:

If we missed any of the best music streaming apps or services, tell us about them in the comments! We know about some, such as Microsoft’s Groove Music, but their app offerings will have to improve to make this list! To see our complete list of best app lists, click here.

Plex can now be controlled with your voice via Amazon Alexa

The popular media server software Plex just got more useful, if you have the required hardware. The company announced today that you can control Plex software with your voice via Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant. This support will work with Amazon’s lineup of Echo connected speakers, along with its Fire TV devices and Fire tablets.

See also:

Best media center apps for Android

3 weeks ago

Once you enable the Plex skill on Alexa, you can sit down on the couch and say something like, “Alexa, ask Plex to play Star Trek Beyond”. Your Plex-enabled smart TV should then start playing the latest movie in the Kelvin timeline series if you have it set up on your Plex server. If you have any music stored in the server, you can also play it by saying something like, “Alexa, tell Plex to play music by Bob Marley.”

If you don’t know what you want to watch, the new voice support can be used as well to help give you choices. You just say, “Alexa, ask Plex to suggest something to watch” to bring up a list of videos. If you already have a queue of videos that’s ready to go, but you forgot what’s in that list, you can say, “Alexa, what’s on deck?” to show what’s included. You can also use the new feature to pause or stop a track with your voice as well.

In related news, Plex has added a new feature to its media server called Webhooks. Basically, people can use Webhooks to automate actions when they play or rate a Plex media file. For example, when you start playing a movie, you can have a Webhook set up to your connected lights so they dim the second the movie starts playing. You can also set up webhooks to send posts to social media accounts, or even to messaging systems like Slack, to let the outside world know you are watching the latest episode of The Flash.

Do you own an Alexa-based device? If so will you use it with your Plex software? Let us know in the comments!

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Deal: Amazon selling mid-range BLU Vivo 5R for $149.99 (save $50)

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The BLU Vivo 5R was announced back in September with an initial price tag of $199.99. The already affordable device is now on sale and can be yours for $149.99 over at Amazon – that’s a saving of $50 off its regular price. It is unlocked and available in two different colors — gold and gray.

The BLU Vivo 5R is a mid-range smartphone and comes with a 5.5-inch 1080p display. You’ll find MediaTek’s MT6753 chipset under the hood along with 3 GB of RAM. There’s 32 GB of internal storage available, but if that is not enough you can expand it with the help of a microSD card (up to 64 GB).

See also:

BLU’s new $150 Vivo XL2 announced with a 5.5-inch display, 13MP camera

7 days ago

The device sports a 13 MP primary camera with phase detection autofocus and an f/2.0 aperture. There’s also a secondary selfie snapper on board that has an 8 MP sensor. Other features of the BLU Vivo 5R include a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, a USB Type-C port, and a 3,150 mAh battery that should get you through a day of moderate use.

If you’re looking for a mid-range device with an affordable price tag, the BLU Vivo 5R might be right up your alley. To get it, visit Amazon’s sales page and place your order by clicking the button below.

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But do keep in mind that the offer is available for a limited time only, as it expires in about 20 hours. So if you’re thinking of getting the deal, you should probably do so quickly in order to secure the $50 discount.

Starbucks app finally lets you save your favorite drinks, voice commands coming soon

Starbucks is adding some new features to its mobile apps that will surely make it easier to order coffee and food products from its many locations ahead of time. Not only is the company rolling out the ability to order via voice command, you’ll also be able to save your favorite drinks.

Now, first things first: Starbucks is only bringing its new voice ordering feature to only a select amount iOS users starting today, though the company says the feature will roll out to Android device sometime later this year. According to the company, the voice ordering feature should work just as if a person walked into a Starbucks location and ordered his or her coffee in front of their barista. In this case, the virtual barista is a chatbot, who will let users make modifications to their order, and also have their coffee ready to pick up at their preferred brick-and-mortar location.

Starbucks app finally lets you save your favorite drinks, voice commands coming soon

There’s also a new skill available for the Amazon Alexa assistant platform that performs the same basic function for the company’s Echo lineup of speakers.

The Alexa skill, however, is a bit more limited in scope. If you happen to own an Echo speaker, and have a “usual” order of Starbucks coffee and food that you get often, you can now say, “Alexa, order my Starbucks” to have that order sent to your preferred retail location for pickup. It doesn’t sound like you will be able to chat with Alexa to make modifications to that order on the fly like you will be able to do with the iOS and Android barista chatbot.

See also:

Alexa is the quiet star of CES

4 weeks ago

The new feature from Starbucks is just the latest in the AI trend we have been seeing in smartphones for the past few years. Companies are trying to make it easier to use mobile devices without the need to type or go through the usual user interface. It would appear that 2017 will indeed be a landmark year for digital assistants in phones, as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant all try to get a piece of that market.

While Android Starbucks users will have to wait a while for voice commands, the app is rolling out an update today that will finally allow hardcore users to save their favorite coffee creations in the app’s new Favorites selection. So if you really want a daily dose of your Grande Caramel Macchiato with nonfat milk, you can set that up in the app, put it in your Favorites selection and then quickly tap on it the next time you want to pick it up from your nearest Starbucks location without having to build up another separate order.

The app also includes a new recommendations feature. When you start building your Starbucks order, the app will offer helpful ideas for any optional drink or food selections you might want to add to it. The app update is rolling out today, though it might not hit your device for a few days yet.

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You can now wake the Amazon Echo by saying “Computer”

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Voice-activated speakers, like Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot, are handy little devices. To activate the speaker’s virtual assistant though, you have to use a wake word to let the device know you’re talking to it. Until recently, you could use three different wake words with Amazon’s Echo products — Alexa, Echo, and Amazon. But with the latest update, you can now also say “Computer” to alert the device.

See also:

Report: Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers to see shipments surge in 2017

9 hours ago

Changing the default wake word is quite easy. Just open up the Alexa app, select settings, choose a device, and then select Wake Word. All that’s left to do is for you to pick one from the list of options and save your selection.

This really is a handy new feature, as having more wake words is something most people want to see. However, it would be even better if users would have the option of adding their own words rather than just being able to choose one from a list.

That way, you could name your Echo whatever you like, a simple addition that would enrich the entire experience. Hopefully, Amazon will bring this feature to its voice-activated speakers in the near future. Fingers crossed.

Report: Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers to see shipments surge in 2017

The connected speaker market is still a tiny one, but it may get much bigger in 2017. A new report predicts that we will see a combined total of 24.5 million Google Home and Amazon Echo connected speakers ship in the new year, well above the 6.5 million units that shipped in 2016.

See also:

Watch two Google Home speakers share a deep conversation

2 weeks ago

The report comes from VoiceLabs, which offers a voice analytics software product called VoiceInsights. It is is supposed to provide developers data about how consumers use their Amazon Alexa skills and Google Assistant Actions. The company’s new report claims that there is room for both Google Home and Amazon Echo to be “huge business successes”. However, it adds that households will likely buy one connected speaker and stick with that brand. It states:

VoiceLabs surveyed consumers who already own a Google Home or Amazon Echo, and currently only 11% of respondents will also buy a competing device.

Report: Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers to see shipments surge in 2017

The report gives Amazon an edge over Google in selling connected speakers to those consumers, thanks in part to the retailer’s extensive experience in selling third-party hardware and consumer electronics. However, it’s still very early days in this market, and even though Amazon might have the current advantage, there’s no reason why Google cannot compete in this space as well.

It’s also likely that by the end of 2017 we could also see more companies enter this market as well, including Microsoft and Apple,which could take some market share away from both Amazon and Google. It seems clear that this is the year the current connected speaker trend might explode or it might become just another tech fad that didn’t pan out as planned.

Do you think we will see a big surge in connected speaker shipments this year, and will more companies try to compete with Google and Amazon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Amazon Dash buttons now come in digital versions

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Amazon came up with an interesting way to order products with its WiFi-enabled Dash buttons not too long ago. The idea was to make it quick and convenient to order grocery products like garbage bags, cat food or detergent that people needed to buy on a regular basis. But what if you need to get some toothpaste, but that Dash button is nowhere near you? That’s where the newly revealed digital Amazon Dash buttons come in.

See also:

Amazon Echo vs Dot vs Tap: Which is right for you?

3 days ago

These buttons are available for members of the Amazon Prime program. If you need to get some products, but either don’t have any Dash buttons at home or they are not available at that moment, Prime members can now go to the Amazon website and click on a digital Dash button to have those items sent to them automatically.

The virtual versions can also be sorted on the webpage, from most-used buttons to the ones you access the least. You can also label them if you want to make it easier to find your favorites, or delete any that you don’t want to use any more. If you do press a virtual Dash button and then quickly realize you made a mistake, Amazon allows you to cancel that order if the request is made within 30 minutes. If you purchase a physical Dash button, the Amazon site will automatically added its digital counterpart. Amazon has over 200 of them now, which costs $4.99 up front, but they also come with a $4.99 credit, making them basically free.

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Amazon Great Indian Sale: discounts on Moto G4 Plus, OnePlus 2, and others

Amazon kicked off its Great Indian Sale today. Until January 22, you can get a number of smartphones, accessories, and other consumer electronics at a discount. For example, the Moto G4 Plus with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage will set you back Rs. 11,499 (Rs. 2,000 off), while the slightly more powerful version of the device that features 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of space can be yours for Rs. 13,999 (Rs. 1,000 off).

There are more devices on sale of course including the OnePlus 2 that retails for Rs. 19,999 (Rs. 3,000 off), the Lenovo Phab 2 Plus that goes for Rs. 13,999 (Rs. 1,000 off), and the Lenovo Vibe K4 Note, which has a price tag of Rs. 10,999 (Rs. 1,000 off). Unfortunately, the popular OnePlus 3T didn’t get a price cut, but Amazon is offering an additional Rs. 2,000 on exchange to those who buy it during the sale.

See also:

Xiaomi launches Redmi Note 4 in India; starts at ₹9,999

1 day ago

It’s also worth mentioning that Amazon has partnered up with State Bank of India to offer cashback to its customers (maximum Rs. 1,750). Those who make a purchase with a State Bank Debit Card or State Bank of India Credit Card on Amazon’s website will receive a 10 percent cashback, while those who place their order on the company’s mobile app are entitled to a 15 percent cashback. Please note that the offer is only valid for orders above Rs. 4,999.

In addition to a bunch of interesting smartphones mentioned above, Amazon is also offering discounts on memory cards, power banks, headphones, speakers, and other products. If you want to check out all the offers available, visit Amazon’s website by clicking the button below.

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