Thursday, Amazon held a surprise Alexa event, announcing 14 new Alexa centered products, with nearly 75 new features. Rich doesn't think it's trivial that Amazon chose the day before the iPhone shipped to grab all the headlines. But Rich also thinks that companies want their customers to be exclusive, and you can end up becoming deeper into their ecosystem, making it harder to use other products outside of it.
Doctor Mom heard about Amazon Alexa recording conversations and sending them to contacts by mistake. How can she make sure that doesn't happen, since she is a doctor and has HIPPA concerns? Leo says Business Insider has a piece on how to prevent it, here.
Doctor Mom says that Amazon is making it easier for Echo users to personalize their Echo by creating their own skills with blueprints.amazon.com. Leo says that creating a skill requires thinking differently, including how a device would listen. But Amazon trying to make it easier, which is a great idea.
Maurice says that Echo is a great idea, and Amazon's $35 Connect box makes it possible to call 911 in emergency situations. Rich says that Echo is designed to not dial 911 because the infrastructure isn't set up for it yet. That's why the optional connect box is a good idea until they get it figured out. But it also has to do with location services for 911. It has to know where the emergency really is.
Bogdan wants to know what home assistant should he buy. Leo says it depends on what he wants to use it for. Google Assistant is better for answering questions, and Amazon Echo is better for shopping and consuming music. Both now support making phone calls. Both will work with home automation devices, so he can tell Echo to turn on the lights. In the long run, Google will probably be the best, though.
Heather wants to listen to the Tech Guy on her Echo, but she can't get it to play. Leo says that's because Amazon has changed the syntax, and now she has to say "Echo, listen to TuneIn TWiT Live." She should try to say the name of the app first, and then the podcast name.
Stan has a bunch of Amazon Echo devices all over his house, but he's having issues with the one in his garage. Leo says that the garage may be too far from his router. He should try bringing it into the house and using it. If it works there, then that means he just doesn't have a good signal in the garage. If it doesn't, then the software may be damaged, and he can just reset it back to defaults to reload the software.
Kevin is having trouble with his two Alexa devices. They are intermittently going in and out. Leo says that if it comes back where it left off, that's just buffering of the internet and is a sign that his bandwidth isn't keeping up. If it's dropping out and coming back at a different time, then he's losing packets. Either way, it's an internet issue. It could also be iHeartRadio. It could also be congestion with wireless traffic. Kevin could use a Wi-Fi analyzer to see if someone's Wi-Fi hotspot is getting in the way.
Peter bought a Sonos One speaker with Alexa built in. Alexa doesn't work, though. Leo says that's probably due to Amazon Canada. The Sonos One also has a limited version of Alexa, so Leo has a hunch it's an issue with Sonos. It may also be a region code issue. Peter should try using an American credit card, which could solve the issue. But Leo says it's only a matter of time before that clears up because Echo is going everywhere.
Judy wants to know if her mother, who is in a nursing home, can be wired in to call the nurse outdoors. She can't pull the string to call the nurse. The chatroom says that Amazon has the "Add a motor drapery motor" that could maybe do it. But Leo says that the easiest thing to do would probably be to buy an Echo Dot for the nurse's station. That way her mother can do a "drop-in" with the Echo to call them.