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Just bought myself one of these little things and am very impressed with it (apart from the battle to get the App as computer says not available in your country).

 

Anyone else got one and able to recommend some 'skills'?

 

It does seem to think I like Bruno Mars, but I'll train that out of her!

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Can you not call it Hal instead of Alexa?

Her, please. Tried to call her Hal and she told me where to go in no uncertain terms!

 

Have to say, it is difficult not to end each request or question with a 'please'; if you do, it throws Alexa a little. I suppose she is not used to being treated as an equal....... oh wait.

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It's an impressive thing. But you do have to keep in mind that it is listening to anything you say in your house all the time. Part of me says that's a small price to pay for the science of being able to "talk to the 'net", but while I do use OK Google on my phone, it's only when It's unlocked.

 

I wonder if it snitches you in if you express a great desire to kill the current prime minister.

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It is quite impressive and not a hugely expensive toy, cheaper than most smart phones.

 

I would love it if there was a skill that allowed Alexa to read out posts on MF in the style of the relevant poster; it would be priceless.

 

As for the spy in the corner issue, she'll hear f all in my house other than swearing at whichever dog, cat or child I tripped over. I tend to keep my subversive thoughts just that.

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I'm interested in the description of it filling a room with immersive, 360 degree omni-directional audio. Does that mean that no matter where it's positioned in a room and even if you move around or turn your head, you'll always hear sound at an equal level in both ears?

 

Is it compatible with Apple products?

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but while I do use OK Google on my phone, it's only when It's unlocked.

You mean that it only responds to the specific voice command when unlocked or when OK Google is enabled? Unless you put a switch on the microphone, or rip it out completely, you really have no way of knowing whether or not the microphone remains active or potentially active.

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but while I do use OK Google on my phone, it's only when It's unlocked.

You mean that it only responds to the specific voice command when unlocked or when OK Google is enabled? Unless you put a switch on the microphone, or rip it out completely, you really have no way of knowing whether or not the microphone remains active or potentially active.

 

That is true. But could apply to any modern phone.

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you could apply to any modern phone.

Agreed. But it's a more nuanced story. And there are lots of news articles online regarding, for example, whether or not advertisers exploit information gathered from apps which have microphone privileges enabled. Eg - many people use Facebook's WhatsApp. Users typically give it permission to use the microphone. Facebook seems to prevaricate somewhat with respect to whether or not they choose to use what they can hear.

 

Users do not typically give an app permission to only use the microphone when they are deliberately speaking into it. It's a general permission.

 

Facebook doesn't listen through your phone's mic -- except when it does - Computer World

 

Facebook Wants To Listen In On What You're Doing - Forbes

 

It's not just Facebook. There are lots of other companies making apps which people give microphone permission to - either deliberately or without even giving that a second thought. And then there are all the phones people buy from China which come with who-knows-what pre-installed and built-in at a system level.

 

Is your smartphone listening to you? - BBC.

Edited by pongo
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I got one when they were released in the UK and the whole family loves it! It's used to play music, check the weather forecast, listen to news and I now have the lamps in the living room and the Xmas tree controlled by voice commands. Next step is to get the TV/Satellite/Kodi voice activated, but that's a project for the holidays.

 

Biggest impact for us has been that we're listening to more music. Asking for a particular track, some Xmas music or just 'Play some music' has made it more accessible somehow and we're still using it daily even now that the original buzz has faded away. I bought a bunch of Dots over Black Friday so will be spreading them around the house (another holiday project) which means kids can listen to different things (no more Frozen vs Everything is Awesome battles by our 6 year olds!)

 

Here's some fun stuff you can do with it: https://turbofuture.com/consumer-electronics/200-Amusing-Amazon-Echo-Easter-Eggs

 

Only catch with is: Had to change the wake word as with a son named Alexander it kept getting activated at the wrong time :)

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