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Amazon’s latest Echos show the smart home space hitting its stride

Amazon’s Echo lineup got a refresh earlier this year that included a brand new version of its basic Echo, well as an Echo Plus with integrated smart home hub, and the stalwart Echo Dot – unchanged, but still a compelling device at its price point.

The new lineup of devices also made its way to more markets this year, including an expansion to Canada just this month, which is why I now have a host of Echo hardware kitting out my apartment. The major accomplishment of this refresh, I think, is that it feels less like a new generation of gadget, and more like a coming of age for a modern-day appliance – a whole new category of must-have home furnishings.

Amazon clearly wants to encourage this impression – the new Amazon Echo comes in a host of fabric-covered finishes, and it’s hard to imagine the upholstery look’s connection to furnishings is unintentional. Part of it is about fitting into the decor so that these smart speakers can stand free and clear and unhidden on shelves, tables and surfaces without offending any sensibilities. But it’s also about turning a gadget into something far more approachable, and far more mainstream.

As far as I’m concerned, Amazon has accomplished its task. The Echo (and Echo Plus, and Echo Dot), have all become as key a home device as a light switch, or a couch, or a microwave. The latest generation just firms up that presence with needed improvements in key areas, including in sound reproduction (the new Echo is better than its predecessor, for sure, and the Echo Plus seems to sound a bit better as well despite having apparently similar hardware).

I now use the Echos around the house to control my Hue lights (I don’t remember the last time I flicked a switch), turn on and control the home theater system, check and change the temperature using my Nest thermostat, check news and weather and set kitchen timers. It’s second-nature at this point, and doing the same things, the old, manual way feels hopelessly backwards – even if the actual convenience difference is arguably trivial.

Aspects of the new Echo lineup are questionable, like the integrated smart home hub in the Echo Plus which only supports one of the two major standards for wireless connected home devices. But they don’t detract from the experience – and the ultimate impression that Echo is a home companion that’s destined to become more and more a default option that people live with as reliably as they do their coffee table, or at least their dishwasher.

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Darrell Etherington
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/18/amazons-latest-echos-show-the-smart-home-space-hitting-its-stride/?ncid=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
 

Facebook targets posts that beg for likes, shares with algorithm update

Enlarge (credit: Facebook)

Facebook news feeds can get pretty cluttered, especially with clickbait posts fishing for as many likes, shares, and comments as possible. But it appears that enough users have complained to Facebook about these posts that the social media platform will start cracking down on what it is calling “engagement bait.” In a Facebook blog post, the company explains it will demote engagement bait posts and pages starting this week.

The company defines engagement bait posts as any that encourage interaction to “artificially boost engagement” and glean more reach on the site—posts that say, “Like this post if you’re an Aries or Love this if you’re a Leo,” and other spam-like messages. Facebook has reviewed and categorized thousands of posts like this so it could update its news feed algorithm to identify engagement bait posts and demote them on your news feed.

The hope is that with the new demotion policies, spam posts won’t be shown as often on your news feed, and those that post engagement bait will stop doing so. Facebook is also implementing stricter policies for pages that “systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach.” These rules will roll out over the next few weeks, so publishers should keep them in mind as they create new posts. Pages that consistently use engagement bait tactics will see the reach on those posts decline as these new rules are put into effect.

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Valentina Palladino
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/12/facebook-targets-posts-that-beg-for-likes-shares-with-algorithm-update/
 

Apple’s AirPods are sold out for Christmas

Apple’s AirPods are sold out for Christmas Business InsiderUS Apple Online Store now offers next-day delivery on all iPhone X models 9to5MacAirPods Sold Out Until Early January 2018 The Mac ObserverIt’s Now Too Late to Get AirPods From the Apple Store (and Most Other Places) Before 2018 GizmodoApple is Currently Sold Out of AirPods Until January Mac RumorsFull coverage

#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-buy-apple-airpods-for-christmas-2017-12?r=UK&IR=T
 

Overwatch Is Available For Very Cheap Right Now

Overwatch Is Available For Very Cheap Right Now Cinema BlendYou can pick up Overwatch half price until January 2 PC GamerBlizzard Updates Overwatch Holiday Skin After Feedback Comicbook.comFull coverage

#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://www.cinemablend.com/games/1745410/overwatch-is-available-for-very-cheap-right-now
 

It’s Now Too Late to Get AirPods From the Apple Store (and Most Other Places) Before 2018

It is now officially too late to secure a pair of AirPods before the end of the holiday season via the Apple online store, MacRumors reported, with orders originating in the “United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and several other countries” now showing delivery dates in…

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Tom McKay
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://gizmodo.com/its-now-too-late-to-get-airpods-from-the-apple-store-a-1821370934
 

Sophisticated ‘Triton’ malware shuts down industrial plant in hacker attack

In a “watershed” attack, hackers used a malware program called Triton to to breach the security of an unnamed industrial facility, but tripped up when they tried to gain control of the safety systems.

The post Sophisticated ‘Triton’ malware shuts down industrial plant in hacker attack appeared first on Digital Trends.

Mark Austin
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/triton-industrial-plant-hacker-attack/
 

California issues warning on radio frequency energy with cellphones

Mobile phones are emitting radio frequency energy and radio waves, so there was always the potential and possibility to cause some sort of health risks and concerns. The California Department of Public Health recently discussed how to reduce your exposure.

The post California issues warning on radio frequency energy with cellphones appeared first on Digital Trends.

Stephen Jordan
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/california-dept-of-public-health-rf-warning/
 

Coding is fun: here’s how to ignite the developer spark in children

Basic coding fundamentals are no longer optional for high school graduates who want to excel in the modern workforce. Every child won’t grow up to be a developer, but the ability to understand how computers and AI work is important in almost every industry – and becoming more so every year. Luckily, there are tons of gadgets, games, and resources designed to disguise programming lessons as fun recreational activities. Finding the right way to motivate your child can make all the difference, so here’s a few options broken down by age group. Ages 5 – 8 In this age group…

This story continues at The Next Web

Tristan Greene
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://thenextweb.com/evergreen/2017/12/17/coding-fun-heres-ignite-developer-spark-children/
 

Now GasBuddy Will Track Your Fuel-Inefficient Driving Habits

No matter where you live, gas is expensive. GasBuddy has been one of those app people have used for years to find the cheapest place to fuel up, and now it has a new feature to help you make that fuel last a little longer.

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Emily Price
#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://lifehacker.com/now-gasbuddy-will-track-your-fuel-inefficient-driving-h-1821368647
 

Microsoft Folding Dual Screen Courier Surface Device Revealed In Patent Filing | HotHardware

Microsoft Folding Dual Screen Courier Surface Device Revealed In Patent Filing Hot HardwareMicrosoft Surface Laptop Review: When the Heart Rules the Mind Thurrott.com (blog)Foldable Microsoft device could be the mythical Surface Phone Phone ArenaThis might be Microsoft’s secret Surface notepad The VergeNew self-regulating hinge patent gives us the best look yet at the Surface Phone MSPoweruserFull coverage

#pch3lp #tech #TheNewz #technology #TechNews
Source: https://hothardware.com/news/microsoft-folding-dual-screen-surface-tablet-revealed-in-patent-filing
 

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