Alexa is going to school
- The school plans to roll out the devices to the rooms by the end of August, and will manage the smart speakers through Amazon's Alexa for Business platform.
- This new program will be among the largest smart speaker deployments at a university and could help Amazon to establish smart speakers and the voice interface as typical among younger users.
- The university has worked with Amazon's Alexa for Business to develop customized queries and functions for the smart speakers entering its dorms.
- In total, there are around 100 custom questions that the voice assistant is supplied with responses to answer, such as hours of operation for the library or locations around campus.
- This deployment will be different from the way consumers typically use smart speakers as the devices will be centrally maintained by the university.
Adobe is developing AI to predict when to send marketing emails
- Adobe today launched a series of upgrades to its email manager software Campaign, including the ability to create custom email templates and send multilingual push notifications.
- Also out today are a survey exploring people’s attitudes about email and an AI-powered tool being tested by Adobe Research that predicts the best time to send a marketing email to an individual.
- Changes were also made to the analytics portion of Campaign — derived from the analysis workspace reporting tool from Adobe Analytics and including the ability to drag and drop metrics and add custom dimensions.
- Language variations can also be included in analytics, and marketers can target individuals with personalized offers based on open rates or other metrics.
- Among features not available but potentially on the way for email marketers, Adobe Research is working on AI to power personalized delivery times for emails based on respondents‘ open-time history.
Cisco Gives Bullish Outlook Helped by New Products, Software
- Sales in the fiscal first quarter will grow 5 percent to 7 percent from the same period a year earlier, the San Jose, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement.
- Adjusted profit in the quarter ending in October will be 70 to 72 cents a share, the company said.
- Cisco reported revenue from all regions and all of its major product areas grew in the fiscal fourth quarter from a year earlier.
- Cisco reported progress in reducing its dependence on hardware, with deferred revenue from software and subscriptions increasing 23 percent to $6.1 billion in the quarter.
- In the three months ended July 28, Cisco reported adjusted profit of 70 cents a share, on revenue of $12.84 billion.
- That compares with average analyst estimates of 69 cents a share and sales of $12.8 billion.
Weather app Dark Sky gets a major design update on iOS
- Weather app Dark Sky has been updated for iOS today with the same visual-focused upgrade that came to Android users several months ago.
- The update brings a few new features, most prominently the merging of forecasts into a single page that you can scroll through, which lists current weather conditions over the next hour, day, and week.
- Although Dark Sky says in its blog post that the update is coming to Android today, the new version has actually been out for a couple of months already, and it’s only new to iOS.
- There’s now a precipitation map for the next hour’s weather as well as a feature on the main timeline that lets you toggle between wind speed, UV levels, and more granular information you might need.
VRGineers XTAL hands-on — giving a 5K VR enterprise headset a spin
- Last week, I got the chance to try the new enterprise-focused 5K VR headset (that’s 2,560-by-1,440 per eye, or 5,120-by-1,440 total,) XTAL, from VRgineers, the same company behind the VRHero 5K headset.
- What sets the XTAL apart from the VRHero and other high-end headsets is that it comes fully-loaded with other features — not just an increased resolution.
- It’s not designed as an “order online and start playing VR games when it arrives” type of headset like the Rift, Vive, or Windows VR devices.
- I also got to walk around a virtual apartment via teleportation, watch an assortment of 360 videos rendered at extremely high-resolution with incredible detail, and then I played a flight simulator using a joystick just so I could appreciate the cockpit detail in a real-time moving demo.
This startup says dog chow that's good enough for humans to eat is the future of feeding your dog
- They eat like clockwork and aren't concerned with how the food looks, though "it happens to look good, which is sort of a great coincidence for us," Regev said.
- The premium dog food market is starting to crowd with companies like PetPlate, Ollie, and the newly launched YaDoggie — a dog food delivery service that asks customers to prepare their dogs' meals in an Instant Pot — that claim to provide higher quality dog chow.
- The standard meal delivery for Nubs, a one-year-old pit bull mix, contains 14 days of food and comes out to $128, or $64 per week.
- Regev said it bothers him when people look at The Farmer's Dog's product and say, "Oh, it looks fancy." The food has recognizable ingredients, sure, but it's not intended to be a premium product.
Announcing the Alexa Auto Software Development Kit (SDK)
- Alexa Auto SDK capabilities The Alexa Auto SDK includes core Alexa functionality, such as speech recognition and synthesis, and other capabilities such as streaming media, controlling smart home devices, notifications, weather reports, and tens of thousands of custom skills.
- Calling Enable customers to specify a contact name or phone number and Alexa will instruct the native calling service in the vehicle to place the call.
- The Alexa Auto SDK includes core Alexa functionality, such as speech recognition and synthesis, and other capabilities such as streaming media, controlling smart home devices, notifications, weather reports, and tens of thousands of custom skills.
- Enable customers to specify a contact name or phone number and Alexa will instruct the native calling service in the vehicle to place the call.
- Enable customers to stream audio from popular media services, such as Amazon Music, Audible, and iHeartRadio, and display album art and other info to the head unit.
Google rolls back Android Messages to old design and removes dark mode
- On Thursday, it looked as though Google was starting to roll out a redesigned version of its vital Android Messages app.
- The update featured some visual changes like getting rid of the blue bar at the top and switching over to the company’s Google Sans font.
- But late last night, as Reddit users were quick to notice, Google reverted back to the old Android Messages design — even for those who had already installed the most recent update.
- Yes, Google has the server-side ability to change the look of Messages on a dime.
- Some users had complained about losing the option to assign custom colors to chat bubbles for their different contacts, but it’s rather unlikely that Google would reverse course over that bit of feedback alone.
- Perhaps dark mode was causing some issues, or there was another bug the company discovered, or the revamped Messages started appearing before Google actually intended.
Show HN: Favioli – Replace blank tab icons with unique per-domain emoji
- I could use a Chrome extension that lets me set custom favicons, but then I’d have to go through and specify each one.
- What this boils down to in Favioli is simply saving custom overrides and, in the future, things like icon packs and other settings.
- The reasoning for using a non-cryptographic hash to determine emojis is based on one idea: there’s no way in hell we’re storing the settings of each site a person visits.
- We use a hash of the website’s host to map to an emoji with a custom set of char codes (we don’t really want to randomly apply flag and symbol emojis to all the sites.
Costco's generous return policy is ripe for abuse — here's what could happen if shoppers take it too far
- Maryam Nicksolat, who had been a member of Costco since 2006, told Business Insider that she lost her membership earlier this year after she tried to return a printer she had bought in 2010.
- In a call with two Costco locations in Virginia where Nicksolat had attempted to return two different printers, customer-service assistants told Business Insider that there are no limits on returns and that making frequent returns would not lead to memberships being revoked.
- But Business Insider also called Costco locations in New York and Texas, where customer-service representatives said that the company does monitor the number of returns that customers make, and those who are making frequent returns of high-dollar items are likely to be flagged.
- In one Reddit thread, a commenter who said they are a Costco member wrote that they tried to return a router they bought from the warehouse store seven years prior.