Amazon Working On First Robot

There are no firm details on what Amazon’s robot looks like or what purpose it will serve, but Bloomberg suggests it could be a sort of “mobile Alexa” — following users around their house to places where they can’t speak directly to an Echo speaker. Prototype robots built by Amazon reportedly have computer vision software and cameras for navigation, and the company is said to be planning to seed devices in employees’ homes by the end of the year.

via Amazon is reportedly working on its first home robot – The Verge

Yep, I see this as a mobile Alexa or a robot vacuum cleaner. Nothing too big or scary, to ease people into having robots in their home.

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Firefox For Fire TV Gets Favourites

Latest Firefox for Amazon Fire TV Available this Week
With this latest release, we’ve included a fresh new look to help you easily navigate the web on your Fire TV. No more typing in long URLs that you like to visit frequently. Users can now save their preferred websites by pinning them to the Firefox home screen. By using the menu button, you can easily remove any pinned websites at any time.

via Latest Firefox available to users where they browse the web – laptop, Fire TV and the office. The Mozilla Blog

Excellent. One of my negatives from my Firefox on Fire TV review has been solved. Its a small thing but makes it so much more useable, even for the most casual use.

Amazon’s YouTube app on Fire TV stops working ahead of schedule

Amazon has already deactivated its YouTube app on Fire TV devices, four days before a planned blockade by Google. Instead of opening YouTube directly, the app now encourages users to install Silk or Firefox, and will open a link to the site once either browser is installed.

Google has said it will cut off YouTube access on Fire TV starting January 1, citing Amazon’s unwillingness to support Prime Video on Chromecast, or to sell Google hardware (including Chromecast) on its website.

via Amazon’s YouTube app on Fire TV stops working ahead of schedule

In my previous Fire TV Firefox browser test, I noted the Firefox browser app is simple and has no bookmarks so, to trigger the shortcut dialog you have to keep the YouTube app. Its an amusingly farcical situation. Surprisingly it doesn’t feel like it takes any longer or a different YouTube experience – it loads youtube.com/tv which performs identically to the app.

The end result is that neither company comes out of this looking good.

Firefox Fire TV Test

Had a chance to have a go on the newly released Firefox browser for Fire TV.

Impressions

  • Only 5Mb download! (vs Silk Browser ~50Mb)
  • Main screen of tiles to video and visual services, plus 4 basic settings: Telemetry, About, Privacy, Clear Site Info
  • Sites load really fast
  • Entering just a keyword performs a Google search rather than completed as a .com
  • Sites are suggested after a few letters input
  • URL input is a clicky pain with virtual keyboard and the remote
  • Basic forward/back and home controls
  • Huh, no HTTPS padlock shown
  • Geolocation did not seem to be allowed

Thoughts

I quite like the simplicity and lightweight nature of the app. I wouldn’t want to add too many features to make it a heavier feeling app. Some features I would like:

  • Safe Browsing to block bad sites
  • HTTPS padlock shown
  • A warning (as Chrome, currently) if you attempt to input info to a non-HTTPS page
  • URL displayed or warning if site redirects happen
  • Bookmark tiles, OR last X visited…
  • Firefox Sync to send a tab to TV

I think the app is designed with the intent to check the odd web page and its simple features suggest that. However, I hope the security tweaks could be made, even for once in a while web page visits.

For ~£30 for a Fire TV dongle, its an affordable way to add a browser and all the Amazon Prime Video stuff, to a television.

Webby types, there is more information about Fire TV interface via the developer site and @StuRobson published browser specs/test results of the Firefox browser.

Firefox is Now on Amazon Fire TV – Happy Holiday Watching – The Mozilla Blog

As of this morning we have shipped Firefox for Fire TV, a browser for discovering and watching web video on the big screen TV for users to install on their Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV stick. The app is now available on 2nd generation or newer devices in the Amazon Appstore for free, aimed at U.S. customers, but available for anyone else that wants to try.

It’s a sign of the strength of Firefox Quantum that Amazon came to us looking for a partner who could bring more of the full web to its customers.

via Firefox is Now on Amazon Fire TV – Happy Holiday Watching – The Mozilla Blog

Glad that not one but two browsers are on the Fire TV. However, I find this strange considering that Amazon only released the Silk browser a week ago. An anti anti-competitive move perhaps?

Confirmation perhaps, that a browser was a often requested feature? Will more browsers follow?

Amazon Vs. Google

Amazon has just responded to Google’s decision to remove YouTube from all Fire TV products and the Echo Show. “Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website,” a spokesperson told The Verge by email. “We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.” YouTube is being pulled from the Show effective immediately, and Fire TV owners will lose out on the popular, essential video streaming app on January 1st.

Google says it’s taking this extreme step because of Amazon’s recent delisting of new Nest products (like Nest Secure and the E Thermostat) and the company’s long-running refusal to sell Chromecast or support Google Cast in any capacity.

But regardless of the public stance each company takes over the next few days, it’s their mutual customers who are unfairly getting jerked around. YouTube is a cornerstone of any living room streaming device, and for Google to suddenly decide to strip it from millions of existing Fire TV owners — assuming no agreement is reached by January 1st — is shameful. YouTube is video on the internet. Period. It’s also home to beloved creators, and Google’s decision will soon rob them of viewers.

Putting aside who started it. Its odd that I feel Amazon should be able to decide to stock or not stock products, even if in this case, its to push their own products with no competition.

Conversely I feel like Google/YouTube shouldn’t be able to decide that of a website. Its displaying the web, YouTube is online to devices that can connect to web. Withdrawing the FireTV app, OK, fine. Shutting off a specific device which is now just displaying the YouTube site in a browser webview is just moving the goalposts.

It’s a foretelling scenario of the breakdown of net neutrality. These nonsensical battles will play out with people in the middle, over money.

via Google and Amazon are punishing their own customers in a bitter feud – The Verge

Cortana and Alexa Team Up

By the end of the year, you’ll be able to tell your Windows 10 PC “Hey Cortana, open Alexa” and talk to Amazon’s personal assistant. Or if your Echo is in earshot, you’ll be able to tell it “Alexa, open Cortana” to talk to Microsoft’s assistant instead. Microsoft and Amazon are working together to ensure that their voice-driven digital assistants will be able to work together in a surprising collaboration.

Both companies have reach in areas the other does not; Microsoft says that there are some 145 million monthly active Cortana users on Windows 10 PCs, while Amazon has found success selling its Echo speakers into living rooms and bedrooms. With this partnership you’ll be able to take advantage of Alexa’s easy online shopping from your PC or Cortana’s stronger calendar integration on your sofa.

I can see how the collaboration fills some gaps in the audience of each. Not so thrilled at the potential for data sharing between them which will certainly happen in future.

via Cortana and Alexa are coming together in surprising Microsoft/Amazon partnership | Ars Technica

Amazon is reportedly working on a messaging app called Anytime – The Verge

Amazon.com is reportedly working on launching its own messaging app called Anytime, according to a report from AFTV News. The retail giant has begun to survey its customers about potential features, although it’s not clear what form the final product will take.

Its not perhaps something anyone would have thought to demand from Amazon – but, the difference is if Facebook alienate enough users from their assorted apps, near everyone already has an Amazon account. Moving friends wholesale wouldn’t have the friction and resistance from people it might have, compared to an entirely new and untested company.

via Amazon is reportedly working on a messaging app called Anytime – The Verge

Net Neutrality Day of Action

Amazon, Reddit, Mozilla, and other Internet companies are joining net neutrality activists next month for an “Internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality.”

“The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online,” activist groups Fight for the Future, Free Press, and Demand Progress said in an announcement today. “If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees. On July 12th, the Internet will come together to stop them.”

On that day, websites who sign up for the protest will “sound the alarm about the FCC’s attack on net neutrality.”

https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12/

via Amazon and Reddit try to save net neutrality rules in “day of action” | Ars Technica