Voice-First News Roundup 10.7.19

Every week we bring you a selection of the previous week's most buzzworthy headlines on voice-first and related topics for September 29 - October 6.

^Preview of Microsoft's upcoming Surface Earbuds^
Preview of Microsoft's upcoming Surface Earbuds presented at the 2019 Surface event, NYC.

Microsoft's play into the earbud market: Microsoft introduced the Surface Earbuds, a new pair of wireless earbuds, at their Surface 2019 event in NYC. The Surface Earbuds, which integrate with MS Office, will be available “later this year” for $249. The user can control slides by swiping on the buds, ask them about their calendar events or email, or have them translate speech into text with captions appearing on screen during live presentations. The earbuds use Omnisonic sound and integrate two mics in each bud in order to aid with noise reduction and sound fidelity. The Surface Earbuds can also reach an impressive 24 hours of battery life.
For more, see The Verge.

"Oi Alexa, voce fala português?" Amazon continues its global expansion with its upcoming Portuguese-speaking Alexa launch in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy. Just last month Amazon introduced Amazon Music and its Prime subscription service into the Brazilian market, which offers unlimited nationwide free shipping and a maximum 48-hour delivery time in over 90 municipalities. The Echo devices come with Brazilian Portuguese language support, local knowledge, hundreds of local skills, and they will also integrate with a wide range of Alexa-certified devices. The Echo Dot and Echo Show 5 are available for pre-order in Brazil, and the Amazon Echo will be available to customers in November. For more, see DayOne.

Alexa goes multilingual: Amazon recently announced that Alexa now supports interactions in English and Hindi in India, in addition to other languages. Come early October, they'll also be supporting US Spanish and will enable multilingual mode, which will allow Alexa to switch between languages. Users in multilingual households will now be able to switch between languages with Multilingual Mode. Multilingual Mode will be available in three pairs: English and Spanish in the US, Indian English and Hindi in India, and Canadian English and French in Canada. For more, see Alexa Blogs.

Dave Limp, a senior vice president at Amazon, demonstrates a new Alexa feature. Photo: Andrej Sokolow/picture alliance/Getty

The internet is still abuzz over Amazon's Echo hardware event from two weeks ago. Owen Williams analyzes the event, discussing the company's aim to build an omnipresent operating system. "Alexa everywhere is the company’s attempt at building an operating system of its own — one for the real world — in which you’re more likely to ask Amazon a question before you ask Google or any other company." For more, see OneZero.

Noteworthy Alexa updates and news:
Amazon announces that Echo users can now add Alexa skills to their custom built routines--and many of us rejoice! For more, see Alexa Blogs.

Blackboard, virtual learning environment and learning management system developed by Blackboard Inc., to launch new skill for Amazon Alexa. For more, see University Business.

🎙Podcasts

Dylan Zwick, CPO and Co-Founder of Pulse Labs, is interviewed by Collin Borns on the Voicing Startups podcast. Listen to them discuss Pulse and the voice ecosystem: http://VoicingStartups.com/PulseLabs/

📆 Save-the-Date

Seattle, Oct. 8, 6-8:30 PM: VoiceHero and Midgame, Alexa Accelerator Double Feature, Hosted by Seattle Alexa Meetup. RSVP.

Seattle, Oct. 21, 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Fireside with Torrey Podmajersky, UX Writer, Google, Hosted by Women in Voice Seattle. RSVP.


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