Category Archives: amazon

UK Government Feeds Alexa and Google Home



Good news for Alex and Google Home users in the UK. The government’s

The head of GOV.UK, Jennifer Allum, said, “We want to simplify people’s interactions with the government, making information clear and accessible to everyone.These results are promising because voice services can be a really convenient way to get information, particularly for people who find computers and phones hard to use.

You can ask Alexa, “When is Brexit?” which she answers accurately, but sadly she doesn’t seem to know who my Member of Parliament is. Then again, Alexa only has useful information…

Photo by Grant Ritchie on Unsplash


Amazon and Google Announce Official YouTube App to Launch on Fire TV



Amazon and Google announced that in the coming months, the two companies will launch the official YouTube app on Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs, as well as the Prime Video app for streaming to Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices.

In addition, Prime Video will be broadly available across Android TV device partners, and the YouTube TV and YouTube Kids app will also come to Fire TV later this year.

The flagship YouTube app will be the easiest way for users to watch all of their favorite YouTube content on Fire TV. Users will be able to sign in to their existing YouTube account, access their full library of content, and play videos in 4K HDR at 60 fps on supported devices. In addition, standalone YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps will also launch later this year on Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs where available.

Chromecast and Chromecast built-in users, along with Android TV users, will have easy access to the Prime Video catalog including the latest seasons of Amazon Originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Hanna, Homecoming Beach, Catastrophe and The Grand Tour, along with Amazon Original movies like Donald Glover’s Guava Island, and Academy Award nominated films like The Big Sick and Cold War.

Engadget points out that this ends “a long contentious relationship between Amazon and Google.” According to Engadget, the addition of YouTube apps only applies to Fire TV devices.


Amazon had a Record-Breaking Holiday Season



How many items did you purchase from Amazon as gifts for friends and family this holiday season? All those purchases add up. Amazon announced a record-breaking holiday season thanks to its customers all around the world, with more items ordered worldwide than ever before.

In a press release, Amazon revealed some interesting data about what people bought. It also included information, that I personally find to be sort of creepy, about how people used Alexa this holiday season.

  • Customers purchased millions more Amazon Devices this holiday season compared to last year – the best-selling Amazon Devices this holiday included all-new Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K with all-new Alexa Voice Remote, and Echo.
  • It was a record holiday season for Amazon’s Kids Edition devices; customers purchased more Echo Dot Kids Edition and Fire Kids Edition tablets than ever before.
  • Customers purchased millions of Amazon Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and Kindle products this holiday season.
  • The best-selling electronics this holiday season included Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, the Samsung Flat 65” 4K UHD 8 Series Smart LED TV, Apple iPad (Wi-Fi, 32GB) in Space Gray, Wemo Mini Smart Plug, Blue Yeti USB Microphone in Blackout, Wyze Cam 1080p HD Indoor Wireless Smart Home Camera, and HP Sprocket Photo Paper.
  • More than 50 percent of items sold via Amazon this holiday season came from small and medium-sized businesses.
  • The best-selling items at Amazon 4-star this holiday season included Amazon Smart Plug, al-new Echo Dot, Becoming by Michele Obama, L.O.L Surprise! Under Wraps Doll Series toys, and the DASH Rapid Egg Cooker.

The part of the press release that made me a little uncomfortable was the portions that revealed how much data Amazon can gather up from consumers. Here are some examples:

  • The fastest grocery delivery this holiday season took place in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was delivered in 12 minutes and 19 seconds, and contained La Croix Sparkling Water and Zevia soda.
  • Customers used Alexa to listen to hundreds of millions of hours of music this holiday season, compared to last holiday season, and on even more services – including Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music, among others.
  • The number one holiday song that customers requested this holiday season was “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey.
  • Customers asked Alexa to turn on their holiday lights tens of millions of times this holiday season, with the number one request being “Alexa, turn on the Christmas tree.”
  • Customers requested 3x as many recipes this holiday season compared to last and asked Alexa for cooking-related advice twice as much.
  • Alexa helped mix hundreds of thousands of cocktails this holiday season – with eggnog and Moscow Mule being the most requested drinks.
  • The last Prime Now delivery on Christmas Eve was made at 11:30 pm in Berkeley, CA and included LEGO Super Heroes Captain America Building Kit, a Hallmark card, Greek yogurt, and shampoo.

Amazon Sent Cryptic Email About a “Technical Error”



Amazon sent a cryptic and somewhat confusing email to some users about a “technical error”. CNBC posted some tweets that included screenshots of the email. (This odd situation was first reported by Beta News.)

According to the tweets, the email from Amazon had the subject line: “Important information about your Amazon.com Account”. The email said: “We’re contacting you to let you know that our website inadvertently disclosed your email address due to a technical error. The issue has been fixed. This is not a result of anything you have done, and there is no need for you to change your password or take any other action.”

The wording is really weird. Some people have wondered why Amazon didn’t suggest that people change their email password – advice that is typically given after something like this happens. How long ago did the “technical error” occur? Amazon didn’t say.

It is troubling that Amazon clearly is aware that a “technical error” exposed some user’s email address to those who should not have it. But, for whatever reason, Amazon failed to let users know who their email address had been sent to.

I understand that this sort of situation might be considered a data breach, and that companies are supposed to let users know about what happened. Unfortunately, Amazon’s cryptic email failed to give affected users any clear idea of what happened or why it happened.

To me, it feels like Amazon is blaming their website for the “technical error” – as though the website was sentient and independently made the decision to send out people’s email addresses. It is like Amazon is trying to separate themselves from being blamed for whatever happens as a result of the “technical error”.

Amazon appears to have decided to keep things extremely vague. It sort of informed users about the “technical error”, but managed to leave out all significant details. This is not good enough.


Amazon Raises Minimum Wage to $15 for all U.S. Employees



I love when big companies do something that truly benefits their workers. Amazon announced that they are increasing the minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies) and seasonal employees across the United States. This raise will be effective on November 1, 2018.

Recode reported that Amazon said that workers who are already making $15 an hour would also see a pay bump. It is unclear how much that increase would be.

The $15 minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday. In other words, Amazon workers will get start to get more money right as the holiday season starts.

Even better – Amazon’s public policy team will begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage. Senior Vice President of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs, Jay Carney, pointed out that the current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago.

The Economic Policy Institute supports a federal minimum wage of $15 by 2024. They point out that those who make the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour are making about 25 percent less per hour than their counterparts made 50 years ago (after adjusting for inflation).

I often find myself frustrated by big companies that fail to pay their workers a livable wage. Jeff Bezos, the founder, chairman and CEO of Amazon, has a net worth of $166.3 billion. It’s fantastic that he finally stepped up and decided to start paying his workers more money.

Image from Pixabay


Amazon Made it Rain Alexa



Amazon made it Rain Alexa! They announced so many different offerings of the devices that if it was not evident before it’s now. Amazon is playing for keeps and they will flood the market with every conceivable Amazon Alexa device. No one knew and maybe I am still not convinced that I need an Amazon-powered wall clock.

The folks at Geek Wire have done one of the best comprehensive reviews of the new product lineup. But there are some direct shots at Apple and Google in this product line up. The Echo Plus and the Echo Sub, in my opinion, is targeting the Apple Home and then you have the whole refresh of the existing lineup of products plus over 70 new enhancements to Alexa.

So if you already have a few Amazon devices you’re going to be at a point soon where you are in lock-in. So the strategy that Amazon is employing is smart.  I say let is rain Alexa


Amazon Fire TV Recast



Newfire TV REcastAmazon Fire TV Recast is the long-rumored product that is a Cord Cutters dream come true. This is a unique offering where you deploy the DVR anyplace in your home attach an Antenna to it and then it will record over the air content for playback at a later date.

Amazon says dependent on the Recast model you buy it “can record two to four shows at once, and stream on any two devices at a time.” It then can stream both live and recorded video to almost any Amazon device whether it be a Fire TV, Fir Tablet, Mobile Device, Echo Show etc.

The Amazon Fire TV Recast will have a programming guide that you will access through the connecting devices. This is another nail in the coffin for connected TV. You can tell the cable companies are getting nervous as they offered me digital TV when I recently cut the cord which I declined.

It will be available later this fall in two versions: the two-tuner 500GB model for $230, and the four-tuner version with 1TB of storage for $280. It’s available for preorder now, and ships Nov. 14.

This device from Amazon was one of 13 launched today as part of a bigger play to Amazon Smart devices everywhere.