TechCrunch: Russia’s Yandex introduces an Echo Dot-style smart speaker. “In May of last year, Yandex launched the Yandex.Station. The $160 smart speaker was a clear logical step for the so-called ‘Google of Russia.’ This week, the company is back with the next-next logical step. The Yandex.Station Mini is essentially its take on the Echo Dot/Google Home Mini.”
CNET: Amazon bolsters Alexa privacy after user trust takes a hit. “The choice to deviate from Big Tech’s playbook underscores how serious a problem privacy issues have become for voice assistants, particularly Amazon’s Alexa. The list of woes includes news that human reviewers listened to users’ private conversations, a common practice to train digital assistants but one many customers didn’t know about. Amazon’s child-friendly Echo Dot Kids Edition smart speaker has also worried parents over how it uses and stores kids’ data.”
Lifehacker: Organise Your Life With These Google Assistant Hacks. “What’s the point of all these digital assistants, anyway? To make life simpler, of course. The Google Assistant, in particular, can not only help answer life’s burning questions and control smart devices, but it can also act as your very own personal reminder bot.”
The Guardian: Apple made Siri deflect questions on feminism, leaked papers reveal. “An internal project to rewrite how Apple’s Siri voice assistant handles ‘sensitive topics’ such as feminism and the #MeToo movement advised developers to respond in one of three ways: ‘don’t engage’, ‘deflect’ and finally ‘inform’. The project saw Siri’s responses explicitly rewritten to ensure that the service would say it was in favour of ‘equality’, but never say the word feminism – even when asked direct questions about the topic.”
CNET: Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa could be next targets for child privacy laws. “The US Federal Trade Commission slapped a record $170 million fine on YouTube earlier this week for violating online privacy laws for children. That may be just the beginning. Regulators hinted that voice assistants like the Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa could be their next target.”
Economic Times: No please, no thank you: Are Siri, Alexa making humans less polite?. “For the study, the researchers asked 274 people if the way they talk to digital assistants is making them less polite. After surveying and observing those people, they found that artificially-intelligent digital assistants are not making adult humans ruder to other people.” Let me raise my hand and out myself as one of those people who says “thank you” when using Siri.
Search Engine Journal: 33% of People Are Now Using Voice Assistants Regularly . “It’s estimated that 111.8 million people in the US will use a voice assistant at least monthly this year. That represents 39.4% of US internet users and 33.8% of the overall population.”