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Member Since 10 Nov 2009
OFFLINE Last Active Apr 24 2012 09:08 AM

Alexa can now make Skype calls

Yesterday, 09:13 PM

Amazon and Microsoft are joining forces to bring a better video calling experience to Alexa devices: Starting today, you can now use Skype on both audio-only Alexa devices like the Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Plus, as well as Alexa video devices like the Amazon Echo Show and Amazon Echo Spot.

Like Alexa’s built-in voice calling feature, the Skype skill will only be offered in just a handful of countries at launch - but, thankfully, the US, UK, India, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are all on the list.

To setup Skype calling on Alexa, you’ll need to open the Alexa app and go to Menu > Settings > Communication. Select “Add a Skype account” and sign in with an existing account. To start a call, just say, “Alexa, call Jimmy on Skype” … or whichever friend you had in mind. Don’t bother Jimmy, he’s busy. 

To incentivize linking your account, Microsoft is offering users 100 free minutes a month for two months after linking your account. You can use that credit to make international calls or reach people who aren't on Skype ... if you're opposed to using Alexa's built-in calling feature that does it for free.

So who can you call for free with Skype? At last count, Skype had around 300 million monthly active users - a fairly substantial number. That number has shrunk some with the advent of Facebook video calling and Google Duo, but hey, that's 300 million more than you'd expect a service that debuted in the Myspace era to have.

Save up to 60% on Corel software for Black Friday, including PaintShop Pro

Yesterday, 05:02 PM

Corel has slashed the prices of its creative software for Black Friday, with huge savings on powerful apps inlcuding PaintShop Pro 2019, Painter Essentials 6, Pinnacle Studio and VideoStudio 2018.

Corel is offering different savings for different locations. For example, creatives in the UK can get 25% off PaintShop Pro 2019 Ultimate, while those in the US can save a huge 50%.

To sweeten the deal even further, all of Corel's apps come with a free copy of WinZip 22 (regular price £25.95/$29.95), and many include bonus brushes and templates to give you more creative options.

We've picked out the best UK and US offers below, but there are discounts on many other creative apps too. See Corel's full range of Black Friday deals.

Infosys serves up data expertise for ATP

Yesterday, 04:25 PM

Last week saw the 2018 men's tennis season come to an end with the traditional curtain call of the ATP finals at London’s O2.

Tennis is not alone in utilising technology in order to enrich the experience not just for fans, but for players and coaches to mark and develop improvements as well.

Infosys has been a partner of the ATP for some time, and is looking to accelerate and expand this development across the sport of tennis. 

The company uses its Infosys NIA platform to crunch huge amounts of data to spot insights and trends that could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

"This is all about amplifying the human potential - we want to make it as intuitive as possible,” Ajay Vij, Infosys Senior Vice President, told TechRadar Pro at a recent event. 

“Technology is secondary here, this is about usage, so we want to create end users."

Infosys has been working with the ATP since 2015, and recently signed an extension to its partnership that will see it cover the next two years as well.

This highlights the increasing importance of both deep-level technological analysis, and the data that supports it across the tennis ecosystem, with Vij noting that, “data has been a fundamental bedrock of this partnership”.

The company’s NIA platform is able to ingest vast quantities of data and look at how players are being impacted with the game they are playing, identifying particular trends or aspects of a match that can be the difference between overall victory or defeat.

"From a platform side, as the data sets become richer, the analysis and insights we can derive from that are going to be really helpful,” Vij notes.

“We're on the second half of the chessboard - it's evolving and almost exponential growth is happening from a data standpoint.”

The insights NIA can provide are not just from recent matches, as the ATP has provided Infosys with historical data stretching back 27 years that can help fans, players and coaches track trends and improvements over the years.

"We're making it exciting for viewers both on court and off court as well,” Vij says, highlighting new apps and experiences that use VR and AR technology to put fans right in the heart of the action.

NIA has also helped the development of the ATP Stats Leaderboards, a new statistical way to understand and measure performance of players, and helped fans get closer to the game with a mountain of stats and insights on the favourite players.

All of this helps contribute to a richer experience, not just for fans all around the world,but for coaches and players looking for that extra bit of advantage that could make all the difference.

And with NIA only set to get smarter with the more data it processes, the future looks bright for the use of analytics in tennis the world over.

Alexa is learning how to wake up even more smart home gadgets

Yesterday, 11:11 AM

Amazon's Alexa devices, from Echo speakers to third party kit, can chat with loads of connected gadgets around your home and power them up with just a command. But, once some gear goes into a low power draw state, they basically go off the grid for Alexa.

This is about to change however, as Amazon revealed a new "wake-on-LAN" feature that will allow Alexa to communicate with sleeping devices that would otherwise be deaf to its requests.

And, music to the ears of older TV owners, you won't necessarily need new hardware to take advantage of the feature.

Awake from your slumber

If you're the owner of a connected smart TV that hooks up to your local network, all that's required is that your TV manufacturer put together a skill that makes use of wake-on-LAN control.

Hisense, LG and Vision are already working to integrate the feature, and expect it to come to sets in the "next several months." Expect others to follow suit shortly.

Bringing new functionality to your existing gear, Alexa is becoming increasingly desirable, no matter the make up of your home gear.

You can now create your own Alexa skills with Alexa Blueprints

14 November 2018 - 11:00 AM

One of the most useful aspects of Amazon's voice assistant Alexa, is all the special tricks its able to do - known as Alexa Skills, these include everything from making to-do lists to controlling your smart home.

While there's already a pretty good variety of skills to enable on your Echo, Echo Plus, or Echo Dot, you may sometimes find yourself wishing you knew how to code so that you could create your own personalized skills.

Well, now you can, with the UK launch of Alexa Blueprints. Following a US reveal earlier this year, Blueprints allow anyone to make their own skills without the need to be a coding genius, thanks to series of walkthrough templates that allow anyone to knock up a personalised Skill in just a few moments. Save it, send it to the cloud, and within a few minutes, it's ready to use with you Echo speaker.

Custom skills

The new system is designed to be as accessible and user-friendly as possible, and as such, is based on a collection of templates that guide you through the process of creating a new Alexa skill.

Using these templates, you can create skills as varied as voice-enabled games, educational tools, and stories to be read aloud by Alexa - and all you need to do is fill out a form with all the features you want your skill to have. 

A big part of this process is anticipating the type of questions people may ask Alexa, and the way it should respond - all you have to do is write your questions and answers in the form, and Amazon will take care of all the coding legwork.

This means that you should be able to make your Alexa experience far more personal than previously possible; for example, if you are studying for an exam, you could use one of the quiz templates to make a personalized mock test to help you revise. 

Perhaps most useful, is the fact that it includes templates for babysitters and petsitters, letting you pre-determine responses to a series of likely questions, as well as doing similar for house guests. Expect to see Dots popping up in every AirBnb you visit going forward then.

And, if you're feeling a bit cheeky, you can also create a "roast" for your mates, giving Alexa the ability to let rip with a litany of putdowns.

There are just over 20 templates to play about with now. And while your creations are initially private to your local Echo devices, you can chose to share them with the wider world if you desire. Get started by visiting blueprints.amazon.co.uk.