Every week we bring you a selection of the most buzzworthy headlines on voice-first and related topics. Here's the news roundup for April 19-25, 2019.

Amazon: Audible Launches Live Customer Services via Alexa Devices, Five Alexa Skills Win Webby Awards

Audible, Amazon’s audiobook company, has launched  a new option for its customers to talk with a live customer service agent via Amazon Alexa devices. Customers in the U.S. will now be able to say, “Alexa, Call Audible,” to talk live with a customer service agent about books or resolve technical issues, among other requests.  These are exciting times for voice-first technology and customer support integration! (Geekwire)

The 23rd Annual Webby Awards winners have been announced.  The Webbys honor excellence in 7 major media types: websites, video, advertising, media & pr, social, apps, mobile, & voice, games, and podcasts. As mentioned in last week’s post, this year included the first-ever class of voice nominees. Five Alexa skills were Webby winners! Congrats to the BBC Kids Skill, Headspace, HBO Westworld: The Maze, BBC Good Food, and Alexa Lifeline.


UK Government and State of Iowa Embrace Smart Speakers

UK residents can now access more than 12,000 pieces of official information about the UK government via their Echo or Google smart speakers. They can find out what the minimum wage is, when the next bank holiday is, or how to apply for a passport by asking Alexa or Google Home. Additional information and a range of services will be offered through these devices. (Metro)

In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced the launch of an Alexa skill and Google Action that will provide government information to state residents, reports Radio Iowa. Iowa now becomes the 6th state in the U.S. to offer state government info through smart speakers. The Governor’s Office also created a document with instructions on how to set up an Amazon Echo or Google Home, as well as how to download the voice applications for each device.

Are Hearables the Wearable of the Future?

DigitalTrends reports that Apple Airpods 3 with noise cancellation are expected to be released later this year. While CNBC has reported that Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities, one of the most prominent Apple analysts, is predicting two new versions of AirPods due for production in the fourth quarter of 2019 or the first quarter of 2020. Also make sure to check out Dave Kemp's analysis of the significance of these reports for the voice-first and hearables spaces. (FuturEar)

Bixby control support is now available in English and Korean on Samsung Galaxy buds, reports Voicebot.ai. Users are now able to turn on music and audio, place calls, check the battery level, and change equalizer settings among other things. The earbuds need to be connected to a Samsung phone in order for the Bixby functions to work.

Microsoft’s 2019 Voice Report Shows Insights and Trends

Microsoft’s 2019 Voice Report analyzes the adoption and usage of voice-first technology offering insights into consumer adoption smart speakers and digital assistants. The study shows that most people are using voice search. It also projects that 75% of household will have at least one smart speaker by 2020.

Things to Listen to

This Week in Voice S3 finale featuring Mark Cuban. Listen to Bradley Metrock’s interview of Mark Cuban during which Cuban talks about his own use of Amazon’s Echo at home, and shares his insights about voice-first tech, use cases, and the possibilities for the young ecosystem.

Save the Date

Seattle- Join Women in Voice for Voice AI Design Thinking & Pitch Workshop on April 29, 5-7:30pm at Create 33. Expert judges Rebecca Lovell, Director of Create33, MariadelMar Gonzalez, Ph.D. of Pulse Labs, Surbhi Rathore of rammer.ai Techstars, Sarah O'Sell of anim8 collective, and Stephanie Blucker of Microsoft. Women and Allies invited. Tix limited. Register now!

Upcoming Pulse Labs Presentations

Alexa Live, Free online conference for voice developers. May 2, 2019, 9 am-1pm. Alexa Live brings you 4 tracks and 15+ in-depth technical sessions.  Catch Scott Dart, Senior SA Manager at Amazon Alexa, and Dylan Zwick, Chief Product Officer at Pulse Labs present "Alexa Skill Developer Tools: Build Better Skills Faster" at 11:00-11:45 am PT Register now!

Dylan Zwick, Pulse Labs CPO, will be speaking on "How to Integrate Voice in Your Total Customer Experience" at NEXT 2019, June 13-14 in Chicago.

Dylan Zwick, Pulse Labs CPO, will be a speaker and panelist at VOICE Summit, July 22-25 in Newark, NJ.

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