Alexa gets Follow-up Mode to listen to consecutive requests, and enables calling and messaging on tablets

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Every few weeks, Amazon adds a couple of features to its Echo line-up or Alexa app, and today is no different. Rolling out now are two changes: a Follow-Up Mode for Echo speakers and the option to make calls, send messages, and drop in from tablets.

Starting with Follow-Up Mode, this can be activated on a device basis only for US English, and lets you ask other questions to your Echo without repeating the wake word “Alexa.” The way this works is after Alexa answers your first request, the blue indicator light on the Echo remains active for a few seconds, waiting to see if you have any more questions, then turns off.

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Alexa gets Follow-up Mode to listen to consecutive requests, and enables calling and messaging on tablets was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Code Media 2018: How to listen to everything from the conference as a podcast

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Interviews with Susan Wojcicki, Tim Armstrong, Jonah Peretti, Lydia Polgreen, Campbell Brown, Adam Mosseri, Brit Morin, Peter Rice, Janice Min, Kerry Trainor, Rony Abovitz, Adam Silver, Yaron Galai, Mike McCue, Kevin Mayer, Jack Conte and others.

Over the past few weeks on the Recode Radio podcasts, we’ve been sharing highlights from the 2018 Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, Calif. And now, almost everything from the event has been posted as a podcast for you to listen to.

The quickest way to get everything else is to subscribe to Recode Replay, which has audio from all of our events, including the Code Conference, the Code Commerce Series and past editions of Code Media. Just search for “Recode Replay” in your podcasting app of choice or follow these links to open it in a few of the most popular ones: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts and Overcast.

If you’d prefer to listen in your browser, we’ve got you covered! Here’s everything we posted this week on Recode Replay. Enjoy!

HuffPost editor in chief Lydia Polgreen

Facebook execs Campbell Brown and Adam Mosseri

Brit + Co’s Brit Morin and theSkimm’s Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg

21st Century Fox President Peter Rice

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti

Oath CEO Tim Armstrong

The Daily executive producer Lisa Tobin

Hollywood Reporter’s Janice Min

SoundCloud CEO Kerry Trainor

Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

Outbrain CEO Yaron Galai and Flipboard CEO Mike McCue

Disney chief strategy officer Kevin Mayer

Patreon CEO Jack Conte and ‘Brain Candy’ host Susie Meister

Recode – All

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Is HomePod love at first listen? It’s complicated.

High-quality audio is the signature feature of Apple’s new HomePod. Apple execs brush off “Siri so stupid” concerns by emphasizing the sound quality of the device. So the big question is: Will the HomePod be love at first listen? I just unwrapped one of the new Apple smart speakers, and my ears now have a […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

Cult of Mac

Apple’s HomePod may sound amazing, but it could let anyone listen to your text messages

HomePod Reviews

While there’s no question that Apple is joining the smart speaker party a little bit late, Apple has never been one to rush a product to market in order to be first. From Apple’s vantage point, the ultimate goal is to release a product that simply outclasses the competition. Consequently, Apple had no qualms about delaying the HomePod release by a few months, all to ensure that the device worked as flawlessly as advertised.

“It doesn’t bother us that we are second, third, fourth or fifth if we still have the best,” Tim Cook said a little bit more than a year ago. “We don’t feel embarrassed because it took us longer to get it right. For Apple, being the best is the most important and trumps the other two by far.”

All that said, Apple’s HomePod release is just around the corner and many of the early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. More important than anything, the HomePod seems to deliver where it matters most as the device boasts best-in-class sound quality. As Nilay Patel from The Verge observed, the HomePod “sounds far better than any other speaker in its price range.”

There are some downsides, though, to the HomePod experience. While we already knew that Siri on the device was stunted, it turns out that the HomePod is not capable of discerning individual voices. This is rather bizarre given that the “Hey Siri” feature on the iPhone has been doing this as far back as iOS 9. This omission is problematic because it enables anyone to access a HomePod owner’s text messages.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you just click yes during all the setup prompts, literally anyone can ask the HomePod to send or read your text messages. Seriously, it’ll just read your texts to anyone if your phone is anywhere on the same Wi-Fi network, which usually reaches far beyond the same room as the HomePod. If your HomePod is in the kitchen and you’re in the basement, anyone can just roll up on the HomePod and have it read your texts. If you have kids, they can just text anyone at will while you’re in the bathroom and you can’t stop it.

In short, you’ll have to make sure that you turn this feature off lest you want folks having unfettered access to your texts. Notably, Patel asked Apple why the HomePod can’t make out individual voices but didn’t receive an instructive answer.

Apple – BGR

Discord Desktop Apps Gain Deep Spotify Integration, Including Real-Time ‘Listen Along’ Feature

Gaming-focused chat platform Discord today announced a new integration with Spotify that will allow users to connect their Spotify accounts to Discord in order to showcase what they’re listening to. Spotify Premium subscribers will be able to “Listen Along” to songs and full playlists together with fellow Premium members directly within their Discord server, which syncs up tracks so that each user is hearing everything at the same time.

Non-Premium members will have the ability to display a currently listening to track in their Discord profile, so when friends click on the profile they can discover new music with a “Play on Spotify” button. Discord confirmed to MacRumors that the Spotify update will be available for both the Mac and PC apps, as well as in web browsers, and all of the Spotify integrations will go live on Discord today.

On iOS, Discord users will be able to see what their friends are listening to, but shared listening will only be available on the desktop apps.

“This is the next natural step to highlight the importance of music as an integral part of the gaming experience,” said Mikael Ericsson, Product Director, Platform & Partner Experience at Spotify. “Starting today, we’re really excited to offer Spotify Premium and Discord users the ability to listen together as a group or highlight what they’re jamming out to while enjoying their favorite games.”

Today’s updates are set to become more enhanced additions to existing features already available in Discord. For example, the chat app previously included syncing with Spotify to show when members of a server were using the music streaming service, but today’s announcement is a far deeper integration between the two companies with specific track listings that show song, album, and time in the song.

There have also been bots in Discord that perform a somewhat similar function to Listen Along, allowing server mods to create channels where users can add songs to a playlist — with audio usually sourced from YouTube music videos — and let multiple people join in the channel to listen in real time and edit what’s coming up next.

For those who haven’t downloaded it yet, Discord is a free app for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android that lets its users join servers that are typically aimed at discussing a specific game and organizing events around the game. The Mac app is available to download on the company’s website and the iOS app is free on the App Store [Direct Link].

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Discord and Spotify Join Forces to Let Users of Both Listen to Music Together

Two of the apps I find myself using the most on my iPhone are Discord [Free] and Spotify Music [Free]. Neither should need any kind of introduction, but in case you haven’t heard of them, Discord is a gamer-centric chat service that spawned from the defunct mobile MOBA Fates Forever (another piece of Discord trivia: Some of the same folks behind OpenFeint are in charge of Discord). We’ve got really awesome TouchArcade Discord Server that’s filled with hundreds of people talking about iOS gaming around the clock. We also use it to coordinate TouchArcade content, so the whole TouchArcade crew is super active. Spotify Music is my preferred online music service, largely because I’ve been using it forever and now I’m so deep in the Spotify ecosystem with different Spotify-connected hardware and services I can’t ever leave. (This is how they get ya’!) That being said, I have zero complaints with Spotify and the $ 9.99 I give them is some of the best money I’ll spend in a month.

On Discord, music bots have been a thing for a while now. Basically, a bot joins your server and then using convoluted chat commands you can make them play music over a voice channel so you can have a shared listening experience with friends. Well, Discord and Spotify just teamed up and if you update your Discord client you can link them directly to do everything music bots used to do, but with way better functionality and user experience as it’s all baked directly into Discord.

The integration is super simple, but if you get stuck anywhere take a look at this page for help on getting your Spotify account linked and how to use all the new stuff. You’ll need to have Spotify premium to use the group listening functionality, but, as I said, a premium subscription is a great way to spend money. Now get your butt over to the TouchArcade Discord Server!


Google now sells audiobooks that you can listen to without your phone

Following reports from last November, Google Play has introduced audiobooks in its store, alongside ebooks and comics. The company has launched the new section in 45 countries and supports nine languages. You can play your purchased titles in the Google Play Books app on Android, iOS and desktop, as well on Assistant-powered devices like Google Home – which means you don’t need your phone handy to listen to them. The company says that it’ll remember where you left off and sync your progress across devices, so you can pick up from that point on anything you’re signed into. That puts…

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