Air New Zealand says kia ora to Alexa

18 January, 2018, 14:08 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • BARK TO THE FUTURE Sony's robot dog Aibo

After confirming that the company's flagship smart speaker range would be coming to Australian customers in 2018, Amazon has now opened local preorders for their Echo smart speaker range ahead of an official February launch.

The Echo, powered by the digital assistant Alexa, is a voice activated, connected speaker which can play music, tell you the weather, turn on your lights at home and add items to a shopping list.

Locally, Amazon has had to work with Australian developers to make this happen, and with the technology being adapted to support both Australian and New Zealand accents, not to mention local knowledge from both places, is built to work for folks from our side of the world. The Echo ($179) is the standard unit, while the Dot ($89) has all the smarts but no speaker and is created to be connected to one.

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Locally, we don't have many of those, but Google's Home and Home Mini speakers certainly made a splash past year, not only when they were launched, but also around the Christmas period when prices dropped dramatically as the search giant attempted to take over the smart speaker market ahead of time.

Alexa is Amazon's cloud-based voice service, answering questions, playing music, integrating with home control devices like Philips Hue, Sensibo, Nest and more, reading ebooks, and many other functions. Westpac also has a financial markets news product allowing you to ask Alexa for the headlines. According to Amazon, more than 10,000 skills are now available in Australia.

"Our skill [the term Amazon uses for Alexa capabilities] for Amazon Alexa devices provides a secure connection between the device and a customer's internet banking account, allowing them the convenience to manage their money".

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Today, customers in these markets can pre-order three different Echo devices.

These are just some examples of Alexa integration, there are literally hundreds more - while Google Home got the jump on this space a year ago in Australia it's very clear Amazon is coming in at full speed.

George Frazis, Chief Executive, Consumer Bank said: "We know our customers want a seamless banking experience that fits with their needs and complements their lifestyles". The hipages - Find a tradie "Skill" will connect consumers with local, professional tradies, through simple voice command with Amazon Alexa.

Jet comes to stop on cliff, almost lands in sea in Turkey
Reports say that there was widespread panic on board but that all passengers and crew members escaped without injury. It lost control after landing and stuck in mud just meters away from the sea, with its head very close to the water.

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