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Alexa’s new ‘Brief Mode’ replaces verbal confirmations with chimes

Alexa is rolling out an optional “Brief Mode” that lets users configure their Echo devices to use chimes and sounds for confirmations, instead of having Alexa respond with her voice. For example, if you ask Alexa to turn on your lights today, she will respond “okay” as she does so. But with Brief Mode enabled, Alexa will instead emit a small chime as she performs the task. The mode would be beneficial to someone who appreciates being able to control their smart home via voice, but doesn’t necessarily need to have Alexa verbally confirming that she took action with each command. This is especially helpful for those who have voice-enabled a range of smart home accessories, and have gotten a little tired of hearing Alexa answer back. The addition of Brief Mode comes at a time when voice assistants are finding their way into ever more smart home devices, beyond the doorbells, camera, lightbulbs, thermostats, and others we’ve grown used to. At CES 2018 this January, for example, Alexa was found in a number of new devices , like smart faucets, light switches, car dashboard cameras, projectors, and several more home appliances like dishwashers, washers, dryers, and fridges. The launch of Brief Mode was first spotted by users on Reddit (via AFTVNews ), with many saying they had received the option just a few days ago. Others in the thread noted they had it as well, but then it went away – something that seems to indicate a test on Amazon’s part, or perhaps bugs with a phased rollout. In some cases, users also noticed a new toggle switch in the Alexa app, which allows you to turn Brief Mode on or off. The explanation provided here doesn’t seem like Brief Mode would be limited to smart home commands, but anytime when Alexa could play a sound instead of a verbal confirmation. It also seems like it may cut down on Alexa’s overall chattiness in other ways, though we haven’t yet noticed any changes on other fronts. I received the option to enable Brief Mode yesterday

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Volley’s voice games for smart speakers have amassed over half a million monthly users

The rapid consumer adoption of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home has opened opportunities for developers creating voice apps, too. At least that’s true in the case of Volley , a young company building voice-controlled entertainment experiences for Amazon Alexa and Google Home. In less than a year, Volley has amassed an audience north of 500,000 monthly active users across its suite of voice apps, and has been growing that active base of users at 50 to 70 percent month-over-month. The company was co-founded by former Harvard roommates and longtime friends, Max Child and James Wilsterman , and had originally operated as an iOS consultancy. But around a year and a half ago, Volley shifted its focus to voice instead. “When we were running the iOS business, we were always sort of hacking around on games and some stuff on the side for fun,” explains Child. “We made a trivia game for iOS. And we made a Facebook Messenger chatbot virtual pet,” he says. The trivia game they built let users play just by swiping on push notifications — a very lightweight form of gameplay they thought was intriguing. “Voice was sort of the obvious next step,” says Child.

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Ecobee’s new voice-powered light switch moves closer to whole-home Alexa

 Alexa is already everywhere in a lot of homes, thanks to the affordability and ease of installation/setup of the Echo Dot. But Alexa could become even more seamlessly integrated into your home, if you think about it. And Canadian smart home tech maker ecobee did think about it, which is how they came up with the ecobee Switch+. Ecobee is probably most known for their connected thermostats,… Read More

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