Brian wants to know if he can connect the Amazon Echo to anything and control it by voice. Leo says not everything. It requires a "skill" to be downloaded to attach to a device and control it. But there are more skills being added every day.
Keith is a fan of the Amazon Echo because he is vision impaired. Leo says that the Echo is great for accessibility because he can talk to it and get the necessary replies. It's not perfect, though, of course. It doesn't make phone calls yet. Right now, he could "drop in" and make phones calls to other Echo users. Some day someone may make a skill for that, but Google Home, by contrast, will be able to make a call to any phone number via Google Voice. So for that option, Google Home is the better option.
Amazon has launched a social purchasing network called Spark, where you buy something and it posts your purchase to your social network so that others can buy it too. They've also launched a clothes app, where the app will make suggestions of what you should wear.
Ron has a bunch of Echos all around his house but he can't use the intercom feature. Leo says he'll need to use the command "Drop in." He'll have to be sure they're enabled on each Echo and choose who can drop in as well. That's done in the Echo app. Leo says he'll need to sign up for Echo's calling and messaging as well, which is also in the app. His contact list will not sync with Echo, either. Leo says he'll have to sync his contacts to Google and then log into Google through the app.
Keith isn't thrilled that Amazon has lowered the manufacturer's warranty on the Amazon Echo to 90 days. Leo says it doesn't bother him. He's had several of them and none have failed. But Keith has had two Dots fail so far. He's frustrated because it tends to be very promiscuous in connecting to his wireless speakers, knocking his other devices off. Leo says that's likely more a problem of Bluetooth, and not the Dot itself. He's also having issues with Drop In. Leo says he hasn't heard of any problems with Drop In and it could just be a bad model or software glitch on his Dot.
Leo got the Amazon Echo Show this past week. This has a 7" screen, with high quality stereo speakers in it. It also has a camera and microphone. This means it can do things like play video content in Flash Briefings, and has video calling. It also has a 'drop-in' feature, which is kind of like an intercom. When you drop-in on someone, you'll be able to hear the other person's audio right away, but they will have to accept to send video.
Quarterly earnings came out this week and Microsoft, Google, and Amazon all posted record earnings in cloud services. Leo says that sadly, hardware earnings fell short for Microsoft whose tablets and laptops fell short. Leo says that's unfortunate because they make some nice hardware these days.
Leo also says that Google made a lot of money, up 49%, on their Pixel Android phone and their Google Home devices. Google's advertising revenue was also up 29% with nearly $2 billion a month in profit.
Neil bought a Harmony Hub for his home theater. He streams with Apple TV and a FireTV stick and he's having trouble running Netflix through it. Leo says to make sure the Hub is set to input 4, the TV is set to input 1, and then pair the Harmony app with Apple TV. It could be a limitation of Apple TV that the Harmony can't hook into the audio interface. The only device that would allow him to launch channels through the Harmony Hub is Roku.
Jim has an Amazon Echo and wants to know how he can find out if a skill is good or not. Are there reviews anywhere? He also wants to know if there's a way to play audio from YouTube. Leo says he could pair his Echo to his phone and play it that way. It can then work as a Bluetooth device. There may not be a YouTube skill yet, though.
Steven is worried that his Amazon Dot could be hacked since it becomes a Wi-Fi access point during setup. Leo says it only becomes an access point during that setup process, and after that it turns off. This does bring up an interesting issue, however, about how the Dot communicates with the device used for setup. Is that communication encrypted? Leo thinks it probably is, but there's no password required to access the Dot during setup, so we don't really know.