Amazon’s Alexa can now set DVR recordings

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Alexa’s ability to control DVRs is going to improve in the near future. Amazon announced today that it’s updated its Video Skill API so that Alexa can now start recordings, launch an app, or carry out playback commands. Multiple set-top box makers already committed to updating or building Alexa skills with these features, including Dish, Verizon, TiVo, and DirecTV. Amazon says some have already been experimenting with these new features.

Users will be able to say things like, “Alexa, record the Cubs game,” and the set-top box will plan a recording. They’ll also be able to tell the assistant to launch specific apps or services, like, “Alexa, launch Netflix.” Finally, they’ll be able to say, “Alexa, pause,” without having to explicitly…

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911 recordings reveal Apple’s problem of employees walking into walls

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Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new Apple headquarters during a media event in Cupertino, California on September 12, 2017. (credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple Park, the massive donut-shaped Apple headquarters that Apple finished building last year, is an architectural marvel. The building makes extensive use of massive, floor-to-ceiling glass panels, giving the illusion that the building blends seamlessly into the surrounding forest.

But when Apple started letting employees use it in January, they discovered a big problem: they kept running into glass windows and doors. In the first few days, three people suffered injuries serious enough to require calls to 911.

“I walked into a glass door on the first floor of Apple Park when I was trying to go outside,” one person said in a January 4 911 call obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. He said he hit his head but didn’t suffer serious bleeding.

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Google Pixel 2’s issue with audio in video recordings fixed in Android 8.1 DP2

Among the list of Pixel 2 issues uncovered shortly after its launch, was one that resulted in poor audio quality in recorded videos. The problem was officially acknowledged, with Google saying a fix is incoming. And here it is – the fix is included in the latest Android 8.1 developer preview. The following videos clearly show the problem has been taken care of – first one is made with a Pixel 2 unit running Android 8.0 and the next with a phone running Android 8.1 DP2. There are more samples to confirm the issue has been resolved – head to the Reddit and Google Photos links… – Latest articles

Canary brings back Night Mode and longer video recordings for free users

Canary today published a blog post responding to criticisms the company has faced over the last month from users who have accused Canary of pulling a bait and switch. In late September, the maker of cloud-connected home security cameras announced changes to its free service that resulted in shorter video previews of 10 seconds and a complete removal of Night Mode, which had previously allowed all Canary customers to schedule their device to record movements while they were asleep at home. With the change, both Night Mode and “full-length” videos were reserved exclusively for paying monthly subscribers. That angered buyers of the Canary and Canary Flex devices, each of which costs over $ 100.

But now, Canary is reversing some of those…

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Google confirms Pixel 2 issue with audio in video recordings, says fix incoming

And the Google Pixel 2 issue list continues to expand. The latest problem that has come to light is that the quality of audio in video recordings is not up to the mark. Specifically, it’s the background noises that seem to be affected, as clear from the videos below. You can also check out this audio clip (extracted from a video) which shows how the quality gets worse as the recording progresses, but gets a bit better towards the end. The problem isn’t being widely reported yet, but for its part, Google has confirmed that the issue is there, and a fix is incoming. Via |… – Latest articles

How to review and permanently delete voice recordings from a Google Home or Amazon Echo

Digital assistants are great, except when they aren’t.

This week, for example, a software glitch recorded everything people said when doing their reviews of the new Google Home Mini. Yes, everything they said all day and all night was stored on Google’s servers, which is not how these devices are supposed to work. The only voice recordings saved in the cloud for a Google Home or Amazon Echo product are supposed to be short snippets captured after saying the wake word, such as “OK Google” or “Alexa”.

Google has already patched the Home Mini software so don’t fret if you pre-ordered a device. Even so, it’s not a bad idea to periodically check to see what’s actually being recorded and saved by your digital assistant. Here’s how to do it.

Removing what Google Home and Google Assistant have heard

Google lumps the recordings into your Google account, which also captures search history, Google Assistant usage, and Play Music usage, to name a few things. So you’ll have to dig a little to get at your cloud-stored voice recordings. To do that, navigate to and make sure you’re signed in with your Google account.

On the main My Account page, look for the card titled “My Activity” and click the “Go to my activity link”. Here you’ll find a chronological stream of the data Google has captured and stored that’s associated with your account. While it’s generally a good idea to review all of the data, if you want to filter it for just the voice data, click the “Filter by date & product” link and then choose “Voice and Audio”.

Now you can easily see all of the stored voice snippets, complete with a Play button for each one so you can hear what your Google Home or Google Assistant app recorded.

While you can delete individual recordings, removing them all will take time. That’s where the “nuclear” option comes in handy because it will remove all recordings from Google’s servers in one fell swoop. To do this, choose the “Delete activity by” option in the menu on the left. Here you can choose a time-frame, with “All time” being one of the options. You can also limit the action to “Voice and Audio”.

Choose those, click “Delete” and all of your recordings will be erased from the cloud. Keep in mind, however, that if you continue to use Google Home or Assistant going forward, all new voice commands will be saved. And it’s possible that the digital assistant experience will be worse, at least for a little while, since Google uses the recordings to make its assistant smarter and personalized for you.

If you’d rather do all of this in the Google Assistant app, you can. The process is generally the same. Just look for the “My Activity” option in the app settings to review or delete saved voice conversations.

Removing what Amazon Echo and Alexa have heard

You can actually do this at an individual snippet level right in the Alexa app for iOS and Android as well. Just open the Alexa app and tap the little Home icon at the bottom left to see a stream of cards, which each card representing a voice interaction. Each of these has a little “More” link, so tap it to see or hear what Alexa heard.

To remove all voice history from Amazon’s servers, however, you have to visit their website here and log in. Tapping the “Your Content and Devices” tab will show all of your Echo devices. Click the little menu button to the left of any Echo device for a pop-up menu that provides a “Manage Voice Recordings” option.

You’ll get an informational warning message explaining that your Echo experience may degrade since like Google, Amazon uses the recordings to make Alexa smarter and personalized.

If you’re OK with that just tap the “Delete” button and the recordings will be erased.

What you give and what you get

Remember that our personal digital assistants are just that: Personal. For them to be customized to individual users, they need to learn about us. And not just how we speak, but also about our preferences, purchases, and the type of information we search for. So yes, we’re giving up that data for any of these devices. In return, for those who find that acceptable, our assistants can make our life easier. It’s a trade-off for sure, and one that we all need to individually decide if we’re willing to accept it or not.

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Sling TV’s improved DVR won’t delete your recordings

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