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Your Vizio TV might have been sharing your viewing history

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Electronics manufacturer Vizio has been fined $2.2 million for collecting viewing data from more than 11 million devices without prior consent. Vizio’s smart TVs captured second-by-second information and sent it back to servers owned by the manufacturer, to be later sold to third-parties.

The footage, being tracked since February 2014, was recorded using automated content recognition (ACR) software and even on devices that didn’t ship with the software preinstalled (presumably it was later installed via an OTA update).

Seemingly, the data collection could be opted out of via a TV setting named “Smart Interactivity”, which was said to recommend TV shows. This setting’s description made no mention of the data collection as part of its functionality, however, and actually failed to deliver the recommendation service outlined.

Vizio also has an Android app which lets you use your device as a remote and cast shows, though it’s not clear if any user behavior from this was tracked.

See also:

Google app makes a ‘data dress’ based on your personal activities

10 hours ago

The company must now pay $1.5 million to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and $700,000 to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs in addition to deleting all of the data collected prior to March 1, 2016.

Vizio has also agreed to obtain explicit consent for data it collects in future, which is nice of it.

Meanwhile, it was announced in January that Vizio’s SmartCast devices are now compatible with Google Home; it’s a pairing that now sounds like a recipe for privacy disaster.

I personally think the $2.2 million total fee is peanuts for Vizio and I’d be hurt if it was my data that had been shared, but what’s your view? Let me know in the comments.

Get a Google Home base for as little as $10, courtesy of 50% off sale

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Google’s competitor to the Echo and the growing family of 3rd party Alexa devices is still very much in its infancy, but if you’re a Google fan there’s a lot to love about the Amazon alternative including a cheaper price tag of just $129, arguably better sound, and the full power of Google Assistant.

But what about hardware customization? There’s that too, and right now you can change up the looks of your Google Home for as little as $10.

See also:

Google Home review – the future of the home?

November 18, 2016

From now until midnight (GMT-8) on February 18th, you can get a fabric-based Google Home base for $10 or the metal variant for $20. That’s 50% off the normal asking price. For those looking for the cheaper base you have the choice of mango, marine, or violet. The metal variants are offered in carbon, copper, or snow.

Anyone plan on picking one of these up for their Google Home, or are you perfectly happy with the device’s looks right out of the box?

Get it now!

Stop me if you’ve seen this Google Home Super Bowl ad before

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If you’re willing to fork over the millions of dollars it takes to air your ad during the Super Bowl, conventional wisdom has it that you should probably invest just as much in making an exciting new ad to capture the hearts and minds of those watching. Google seems to have missed that memo though, and will be airing its original Google Home ad – which is almost a half a year old – during the big game tomorrow.

See also:

Watch two Google Home speakers share a deep conversation

4 weeks ago

Google’s original ad, which has been viewed over a million times already on YouTube, was uploaded on October 4, 2016. The exact same ad was just uploaded again with a new title: Google Home 2017 Super Bowl commercial.

We know times are tough, what with Alphabet shares down and all, but re-airing an old ad during the Super Bowl is a bit boring. Especially when the ad fails to even mention Netflix integration, possibly Home’s coolest new feature, which was sorely lacking at launch. That said, Google is obviously less interested in entering the Super Bowl ad hall of fame than in getting its Home speaker in front of 110 million people.

It’s pretty safe to say that anyone with a passing interest in connected speakers has already seen Google’s ad for Home, but Super Bowl LI will expose it to a lot more potential customers. That alone seems to be justification enough for Google to drop the $10 million it will cost to air the one-minute commercial. Still, it’s a shame we won’t see Google making an ad specifically for the Super Bowl, because that would have been awesome.

Super Bowl LI will take place in Houston tomorrow between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. If you want to know how to stream the big game, take a look at your options in our Super Bowl LI streaming guide.

Who will win? Pats or Falcons? Home or Alexa?

Google Home will get its own $5 million Super Bowl TV ad on Feb. 5

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Are you ready for some… AI assisted speaker action? Google hopes you are while you also spend time watching Super Bowl LI. The NFL football championship between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots will also see the company show off its Google Home connected speaker as part of the huge TV commercial festivities.

See also:

Watch two Google Home speakers share a deep conversation

4 weeks ago

Ad Age reports that Google is keeping the content of the Google Home ad a secret until the big game itself on Sunday, Feb. 5. Advertisers are spending $5 million for each 30-second Super Bowl commercial, so you would think Google has something pretty cool to show off, especially since the speaker itself has been available to buy for a few months now.

Google joins a number of tech companies who will be running ads during Super Bowl LI. They include wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile, chip maker Intel, and software services like GoDaddy, SquareSpace, Wix.com and TurboTax. It will also feature an ad for the mobile game strategy game Evony: The King’s Return, and that particular commercial is supposed to be full of celebrities.

Why do you think Google is spending $5 million to promote Google Home? Will it be worth all that money or is it a waste of its marketing budget? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

AutoVoice for Google Home adds voice support for Tasker commands

If you own a Google Home and want to expand the number of commands that it can understand, developer Joao Dias has just launched AutoVoice support for the device. It’s supposed to offer you both direct and natural language support for commands that will be recognized by the popular automation app Tasker. If you’re a Tasker user, this will certainly open up Google Home for use in a wider variety of scenarios.

See also:

How to use Tasker

5 days ago

The video below was made by Joao Dias over a month ago, before Google approved AutoVoice support for Google Home. It’s still a nice introduction as to the kinds of voice commands that it offers. For example, you can ask Google Home to call a friend on your Android smartphone, or have the phone check your latest notifications, or where you or a friend are currently located. It will also be able to link to your connected lights so you can turn them on or off with your voice, or turn on your TV to launch your favorite Disney movie.

Obviously, in addition to the Google Home speaker and app, this support does require the installation of the Tasker app on your smartphone, which costs $2.99 from the Google Play Store.

Get it from Google Play

It also requires, at least for now, the beta version of AutoVoice, although the developer plans to add support to the stable version of the app in the near future. You will first have to join his Google+ community to gain access to the beta app.

XDA Developers has a detailed article on how to set up AutoVoice to work with Google Home and Tasker commands. There are two voice command options. One is setting it up so it recognizes exact commands, word for word. The other option lets AutoVoice use natural language commands that can support more flexible conversational strings. Due to the developer’s cost in running servers to support this second option, the Natural Language support also requires signing up for a monthly fee of 99 cents. That’s a pretty small price to pay, but just be aware of that before you set up the app.

This new AutoVoice support for Google Home shows that third-party developers are already wanting to add more features to the connected speaker, and we can expect to see even more of these kinds of efforts in the new year.

Google Home adds support for Belkin Wemo and Honeywell smart devices

Google Home, the company’s Amazon Echo competitor, is constantly gaining additional support for more and more connected products. Today, the company has announced that support for Belkin Wemo and Honeywell has been added to Google Home.

See also:

Developers can now write apps for the Assistant on Google Home

December 8, 2016

Belkin Wemo has smart lighting and outlet devices, and now they are available to control by talking to the Google Home speaker. Google says the speaker can even tell you if you have left the lights on downstairs. Honeywell’s smart devices include security and thermostat products, and they can also be controlled by chatting with the Google Home speaker. For example, you can just say, “Ok Google, reduce the temperature in the bedroom”, and it will connect to the Honeywell thermostat and order it to complete that task.

This shows that more support for Google Home by third-parties continues at a solid pace, as more and more smart devices can now be controlled by the speaker. Google will definitely need to keep that pace up if the speaker has any chance of competing with the Amazon Echo family, which has a huge head start. A recent analyst report claims that combined sales of Amazon Echo and Google Home will exceed 24 million units in 2017.

The company also confirmed today that its Pixel and Pixel XL phones will soon have the ability to control smart home devices, via Google Assistant. There’s no word yet on a specific date for when this support will be added, but we would imagine it’s going to be very soon. This will likely also be important for Google Assistant as a whole. If more and more devices start the AI assistant, that also means more smart products can be accessible by a wider range of phones. Since Amazon doesn’t sell its own phones (anymore) that could give an edge to Google in this interesting AI market race.

Next: Google Home review

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.

LG’s Music Flow speakers will be adding Google Home support soon

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LG plans to update its Music Flow lineup of wireless speakers in the very near future with two new highly-requested features. The speakers, which already are labeled as “Chromecast built-in” (formerly known as Google Cast) will be adding support for both the digital assistant-based Google Home speaker, as well as Google Multiroom support, sometime before the end of February.

See also:

Google Cast branding is being ditched for ‘Chromecast built-in’

November 23, 2016

Both of these new features will be available via an over-the-air software update, according to an LG support note. The company launched its Music Flow speaker lineup in 2015, but many of its owners have been waiting for the promised Multiroom update for some time. The support note stated that LG has been working with Google on that update, and decided to throw in Google Home support at the same time. The note added this update will be available for both older and more recent Music Flow speakers.

When that update is available, Chromecast users will be able to cast music to multiple Music Flow speakers at once. The Google Home support should also allow users to control playback, volume and other aspects on those same speakers with voice commands.

LG’s speakers aren’t the only products getting Google Home support, though. Earlier this week, VIZIO announced it has added Google Home support to its lineup of SmartCast devices, including its smart TVs, soundbars and other products.

Google Home users can now control VIZIO SmartCast devices

VIZIO is probably best known for its affordable TVs and sound bars, and now they’re bringing Google Home support to their SmartCast devices. So if you are a Google Home user who owns any of VIZIO’s SmartCast devices – ranging from TVs to speakers – now you’ll be able to adjust your device’s volume, play or skip music tracks, and more just by asking Google Assistant.

The US company popular for its TV product line was bought out by the notorious Chinese start-up LeEco last year. LeEco has since released a few TV models in the US, but it looks like existing VIZIO devices aren’t forgotten just yet. Today VIZIO announced that its SmartCast devices are now compatible with Google’s voice-activated home assistant speaker. If you have any of VIZIO’s SmartCast devices, “spanning P-, M-, and E-Series TVs as well as home theater sound bars and wireless speakers, you can use your voice to adjust the volume, control music tracks, and even power on your TV.

For music, you can simply say the wake-up command and ask for a song from music streaming services like Spotify, Google Play Music, or Pandora. For video, you can even ask your Google Home device to play a movie while the TV screen is off. The TV will power on and automatically begin loading the requested content from apps like Netflix or YouTube. Pretty neat, eh?

For video, you can even ask your Google Home device to play a movie while the TV screen is off. The TV will power on and automatically begin loading the requested content from apps like Netflix or YouTube.

Matt McRae, Chief Technology Officer at VIZIO, explains that “controlling VIZIO SmartCast devices from Google Home is a significant milestone for consumers and their ability to manage their entertainment experience.”

VIZIO’s SmartCast devices come with Chromecast built in, so you can always use Google’s Home app to control them on your Android or iOS device. But the addition of Google Home support is definitely nice to see.

See also:

Chromecast 2015 and Chromecast Audio Review

October 9, 2015

 

Google Pixel Bundle Giveaway

You may not have heard of the Google Pixel, but –

Oh, you have then. Okay, well then I probably don’t have to tell you that it’s a pretty unassuming little gadget that failed to gain much popularity in the –

What? It’s massively popular? Oh…

And the specs are…?

You don’t say.

That’s pretty impressive actually. Okay, now I kind of want one too.

Anyway, Tech Deals is giving away a Google Pixel for the low, low price of free! No strings attached. The only thing you need to be eligible is an email address.

But that’s not all. In addition to the Pixel, you’ll also get Google’s virtual assistant Google Home and a Daydream View VR headset. Altogether, that’s $857 worth of tech that you’re getting for free.

I know that nobody is actually reading the words I’m typing anymore because they’ve all already jetted off to the giveaway, so here I am talking to myself on the internet, but in the event that anyone is still on this page, click the button below to sign up for your chance to win a Google Pixel!

Register to Win!
The AAPicks team only spotlights legitimate, verified deals. If you’re not satisfied with this product, Tech Deals offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out at aapicks@koimoi.com.pk.