Amazon announces Echo, a dedicated, Siri-like speaker system for quick information

Amazon today announced a new hardware product called Echo. It’s essentially a speaker unit dedicated to being a voice-control system. It kind of sounds like Siri but in a speaker for a single room instead of in your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.

You can set alarms, control music, ask about the weather, search the web, ask questions, and access local news. It streams content via Bluetooth and WiFi, and connects to the Fire Phone (if you have one, lol), iOS via the browser, Android, and desktop computers via the web. Instead of “Hey Siri,” you say “Alexa” to start speaking the device. You’ll need a Fire OS/Android device to take full advantage, but music should work fine via iOS.

The whole concept is very futuristic, and it’s unclear how beneficial this will be to people with voice-controlled phones. But, hey, this comes from the developers of a faux-3D phone and delivery drones, so this is not completely out of left field. The Echo is $99 for Amazon Prime users, $199 for everyone else, and (for some reason) you need an invitation to receive the honor to buy one of these untested things.

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Siri takes initiative to learn how to pronounce names in iOS 7

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When Siri first launched, many users found lots of names were pronounced incorrectly and couldn’t do much beyond adding phonetic spellings manually for each contact. With iOS 7, it appears that Siri can now take initiative for learning proper pronunciations.

As discovered by 9to5Mac reader RY, Siri will ask for help pronouncing a name if it has trouble understanding you the first time you pronounce a name. In addition, we have found that you can simply say, “That’s not how you pronounce [any name]” and Siri will go through the learning process.

In that phase, it will ask you to say the name then present a few options of how it thinks you said it. Once you choose an option, it will save and always (try to) correctly pronounce the name.

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