null 0 12 Photos Smart Home Gadgets Tech Industry Tags More digital assistant stories Amazon Alexa 2018 event: Editors react Samsung’s first Bixby speaker, the Galaxy Home, revealed Share your voice CES 2019 Google is primed to go big at CES again Amazon’s Echo devices get redesign on the way to world domination Apple, Siri fall further behind Google, Amazon in the smart home 9:57 The world’s largest tech show has become center stage for the digital assistant wars.Amazon Alexa was the belle of the CES ball two years ago when the e-commerce giant unveiled a long list of product integrations that included Ford vehicles and Whirlpool appliances. Not to be overshadowed, Google the following year constructed a large, eye-catching stage and announced four new Google Assistant-powered smart displays.Which brings us to CES 2019, kicking off next week. There, Amazon and Google are expected to make big splashes designed to show the rest of the tech industry that they — not the other guy — have the best platform for operating our smart homes, connected cars and voice-powered offices. Making their cases will be especially important at CES, since the show has become a who’s who for the smart home and automotive industries, two major growth areas for voice assistants.But while both have extended the reach and influence of voice computing, both also need to broaden their messages and showcase their voice assistants’ capabilities. That work could persuade more consumers that they need smart speakers as much as they need smartphones. Currently, 32 percent of Americans own a smart speaker while 77 percent have smartphones, according to Adobe and Pew Research, showing there’s much more room for voice to expand Smart speaker adoption has been growing at a healthy clip, but drawing in new customers may get harder, with increased consumer concern about data privacy and a regular trickle of negative anecdotes about Alexa malfunctioning. Also, Adobe reported the No. 1 reason people don’t own a smart speaker is that they feel they just don’t have a use for one.”If the industry can convince those that do not own a smart speaker to get one, we believe the effects can be exponential,” in sparking new uses in gaming, shopping and search, Adobe Analytics’ Heidi Besik wrote last month.Here’s what to expect from the leading voice-assistant players at CES this year.Amazon Alexa: The market leaderThe online retailing kingpin will likely keep up its strategy of announcing lots of new Alexa partnerships to demonstrate its market dominance and highlight the versatility of its voice assistant.Amazon may also use its now sprawling devices portfolio to help retain its lead. That could mean using CES to unveil new integrations or features for its Fire TV streaming devices, Amazon Key in-home delivery service or Ring home-security gadgets. But don’t expect a long list of new Amazon-branded devices. The company introduced many Alexa-powered devices in September at its own Seattle launch event. At CES, Amazon is all about unveiling new partnerships, like this one with Toyota last year. Ben Fox Rubin/CNET And while Amazon’s playbook of using a large volume of announcements to show voice supremacy has worked well in the past, the company now faces a lot more competition. In mid-2017, Amazon controlled just over 70 percent of the US smart speaker market, eMarketer reported. The research firm last month predicted that number will drop to 63 percent in 2019 as competitors catch up. The Google Home speaker, for instance, should reach 31 percent; other speakers, including the Apple HomePod and Sonos One, will account for 12 percent. (Some consumers use multiple brands, accounting for a total that’s higher than 100 percent.)It’s why Amazon needs the CES spotlight focused on Alexa and not on some rival voice assistant.Google Assistant: The fast-following No. 2One of the four smart displays Google unveiled with its partners at CES last year. Josh Miller/CNET If any company can make Amazon nervous about its future in voice, it’s Google.The search giant introduced its first smart speaker in late 2016, two years after Amazon unveiled the Echo, but has quickly captured almost a third of the US smart speaker market. Google has also copied some of Amazon’s best ideas — coming out with a cheap, pint-size speaker called the Google Home Mini to rival the Echo Dot, and introducing its own smart displays to compete against the Echo Show.Now Google is signaling big plans for CES 2019, saying it’ll triple the size of its presence from last year. The company may introduce more partnerships as well as smart-home features from its Nest team to help keep pace with Amazon.But while Google has made big strides, it’s unlikely to dethrone Alexa in the next few years.Samsung Bixby: A lot of potentialSamsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, has been working its way into voice via its Bixby assistant. It started by bringing Bixby to its Galaxy S8 in 2017, and even created a dedicated Bixby button on the side of the phone. It also unveiled a smart speaker in August, called the Galaxy Home, which hasn’t gone on sale yet. In late 2017, the company said it would start adding Bixby into its refrigerators and smart TVs. Facebook may make some noise this year, using CES to promote its Alexa-powered Portal smart display. Then there’s IBM. Given that CEO Ginni Rometty has a coveted CES keynote speaker spot this year, we may hear news about Watson, though it will likely be focused more on businesses rather than consumers.For any of these companies hoping to hold its own at CES — and many don’t even want to play that game — coming out from under Amazon and Google’s massive shadows won’t be easy.’Hello, humans’: Google’s Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet.The Honeymoon Is Over: Everything you need to know about why tech is under Washington’s microscope. Now playing: Watch this: Samsung has been talking up its plans to make Bixby a more important piece of its future. But so far, it’s well behind Amazon and Google in voice assistant smart-home devices, features and partnerships. It may even be too late to catch up.The company is typically a big player at CES, so it may use the show to keep pushing awareness of Bixby. It’ll be a challenge to stand out, though, against the two top dogs.The rest of the pack: A scramble for relevanceApple’s Siri pioneered voice computing on phones and remains a notable player in the market. But Siri has fallen far behind the competition, and Apple’s HomePod remains an also-ran in smart speakers as the company focuses on iPhones, its main profit driver. In addition, Apple rarely has a public presence at CES, preferring to host its own events. All these factors point to Siri likely being irrelevant at the upcoming show.Microsoft’s presence at CES in recent years has focused mostly on supporting its PC partners’ new devices, so it’s unlikely to make a big Cortana-related announcement at the show. Although an early player in voice computing, the software giant hasn’t pushed Cortana development, keeping its voice assistant a minor player. Google Assistant Alexa Amazon Voice recognition Google Samsung Siri
By Mark Sherman, The Associated PressChief Justice John Roberts is the Supreme Court’s new man in the middle. It’s just that the middle may have moved well to the right.The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy means Roberts probably will be the conservative justice closest to the court’s four liberals, allowing him to control where the panel comes down in some of its most contentious cases.In this Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 file photo, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts listens as President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress in Washington. The retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy means that the conservative Roberts probably will be the justice closest to the court’s four liberals, allowing Roberts to control where the court comes down in some of its most contentious cases. (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)Roberts will be the justice who determines “how far they go and how fast they go,” said Washington lawyer John Elwood.Kennedy played a similar role for many years — his votes on gay rights, abortion, the death penalty, the environment, voting rights and affirmative action basically determined the outcome of cases on which the court was divided between liberals and conservatives.Roberts has typically been to Kennedy’s right. He did not endorse a constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples. He dissented when the court struck down Texas abortion clinic restrictions in 2016. The chief justice also was in dissent from the court’s first major climate change decision in 2007, when it held that the Environmental Protection Agency could regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as air pollutants.New cases on any of those issues could be before the court soon and, even if Roberts is not prepared to overrule major Supreme Court precedents, he could be in position to cut back on environmental protections as well as gay rights and abortion rights.Smaller steps might be in keeping with Roberts’ preference for avoiding major divides where possible, and attracting votes from both conservatives and liberals. The 63-year-old chief justice may be in no hurry to move quickly, as he could be on the bench another 15 to 20 years.“Chief Justice Roberts, more than any other justice on the court, believes in narrow rulings that attract broad majorities, answering no more than necessary to resolve a given case,” Jonathan Adler, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, wrote on the Volokh Conspiracy legal blog.In one sense, the Supreme Court’s immediate future could look a lot like the term that just ended. Roberts seemed firmly in control of a court that overwhelmingly went conservative in divided cases, including upholding President Donald Trump’s travel ban, striking a blow at public-sector labor unions, limiting workers’ rights to band together to complain about pay and affirming Ohio’s aggressive efforts to purge its voting rolls.Only on one occasion did Roberts join with the liberal justices in a 5-4 decision, a ruling that said police generally must have warrants to get telecommunications companies’ records showing where people have used their cellphones.Twice, though, Roberts was among a larger grouping of justices in cases that skirted the big issue at stake, but that could return to the court. In one case, the justices rejected a lower-court ruling that set limits on redistricting for partisan gain, but without deciding whether limits ever could be imposed. In another, the court ruled in favor of a baker who would not create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, yet left on the table the question of whether religious objections could be used to avoid complying with anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT people.For all his votes on the conservative side of issues, Roberts has had his critics on the right. They include Trump, who once labeled Roberts “an absolute disaster” for the chief justice’s critical vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act in 2012. Trump has not publicly criticized Roberts since he’s been president.The case arose in the middle of the 2012 presidential campaign, in which Barack Obama was seeking re-election and the health care law also known as “Obamacare” was a major issue. Then, as now, the five conservatives were nominees of Republican presidents, while the four liberals were chosen by Democrats.In the end, Roberts sided with the liberals, a decision some court observers have attributed in part to concern about public perceptions of the court and the chief justice’s desire to be seen as above the political fray.“He’s conservative, but he is an institutionalist. He believes deeply in the Supreme Court,” said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.A test of Roberts’ ability to set the court’s agenda could come on the topic of guns, said UCLA law professor Adam Winkler.Roberts voted in favor of gun rights in two cases that held that Americans have the right to have guns, at least for self-defense in their homes. But the court has since rejected repeated attempts to expand on the right of gun ownership, in part because Roberts and Kennedy would not join the other conservative justices to take on a new case.It takes the votes of four justices for the court to agree to review a case. If Kennedy’s replacement is a fourth vote for a new case about guns, then Roberts might soon have to weigh in on issues like the right carry a concealed firearm in public or bans on assault weapons, Winkler said.___Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko and Noreen Nasir contributed to this report.
Register Now » November 30, 2018 Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals My childhood summers were like those of most kids whose parents work for themselves: we went to work too.My dad, a roofer and contractor, was constantly working — finishing a job, starting a new one, trying to get more customers. As I was learning the ropes — how to install flashing and a metal drip edge, which underlayment was up to code — I absorbed five big lessons that have helped me build my technology company.This is what’s stuck with me:1. Do something, even if it’s wrong.My dad still loves to say this. He doesn’t, of course, mean you should do something knowing it’s wrong (that’s just dumb). Fear or inertia too often paralyzes us into inaction, yet just as often — and compared to simply getting it wrong — doing nothing is definitely the greater sin. We need to learn by doing and, sometimes, from our mistakes. In software, this happens all the time — you can iterate endlessly but why? Ship a decent version and learn from user feedback to get closer to perfection.At Broadly, we offer small business customers the option to let us put a website up for them. It’s really hard to get the content we need for the “About Us” section from them. Almost 100 percent of the time, we get nothing back. So we started drafting a quick bio for them and now we have an almost 100 percent response rate. Turns out that even when our first draft isn’t perfect, it’s the perfect starting place for the majority of our customers.Related: Amazon Is Huge Because It Started With A Great MVP2. “Stick it and move on.”You can always move forward, in any job. With my dad, speed was always key. You wanted to get it right but not let perfect be the enemy of the good.Good contractors understand error tolerances. When you’re doing internal framing, it doesn’t matter if you’re off an eighth or even a quarter of an inch in certain places. Because it doesn’t affect the integrity of the building, there’s no need to slowly, painstakinglyget that eighth of an inch. Stick it and move on.Here we emphasize quality but speed matters too. There are points in software and in building a house where perfect is essential. But there are times where expending the effort to refine some minor feature won’t achieve anything substantive – but will slow you down. The trick is knowing the difference.Related: 9 Signs Your Perfectionism Is Out Of Control3: When the computer is the “confuser.”My dad is still not comfortable with his computer — he calls it the “confuser” — and he’s not alone. That’s something technologists tend to forget. We assume that everyone finds technology as exciting and world-bending as we do. But in my work, the local businesses we serve aren’t particularly excited to deal with software and don’t care about the complexities. They’re not impressed by some widget they’ll never use that took hours to create.They simply want it to work. If it’s confusing users more than it’s helping them, it’s a crappy tool. It’s not on the user to learn it — it’s on you to fix it. Early adopters might love the challenge and nuances of the newest toy but the average consumer just wants it to get the job done with minimal effort from them. So make that happen.Related: Why Tech Startups Can’t Seem to Stop Flushing Cash Down the Toilet4: Social proof matters.When I was working with my dad, I saw up close and personally that social proof really mattered to people. When my dad started his business, a friend named Roy taught him about sales. Roy was an absolute genius at helping my dad land new customers. They’d put in a bid but, inevitably, some new company we’d never heard of would undercut us. That’s when Roy would start talking.“Are they in the Yellow Pages?” he’d ask. “How big’s their ad? What insurance do they carry? Are they licensed? You know, if they’re not in the Yellow Pages, they haven’t been here in town long. You got their references?” He’d point out all the elements that, taken collectively, were clear signals that the customer couldn’t trust this fly-by-night competitor.That’s what gave us the idea to incorporate online reviews into our product. In the digital age, this feedback on Yelp, Google, Facebook and Next Door is the word-of-mouth, the social proof, that helps consumers determine which businesses are trustworthy.Related: Online Reviews Are the New Social Proof5: Love the smell of tar in the morning.My uncle worked with us and he channeled Apocalypse Now whenever we started a job. “I love the smell of hot tar in the morning,” he’d say with a big grin. This, of course, was an obvious lie. No one loves tar. It’s dangerous, number one. But it’s also hot, sticky and the kind of stink that gets into your nose and stays there.But what I took from this was whatever you do, sometimes the work is hard and annoying. How you approach it really is what makes the difference. Embrace the suck. Because when you get through the hard parts and see what you built, what you made, what you and your team did together, it’s truly an awesome feeling. Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Read MoreLatest Staffordshire Police News Get the biggest Daily stories by emailSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribingSee our privacy noticeCould not subscribe, try again laterInvalid EmailThe A53 was blocked for two hours in both directions by a lorry following an accident The accident took place on the A53 Etruria Road near the junction with Lanehead Road – and the driver has been taken to hospital. The road was closed in both directions between A5010 Etruria Road / Festival Way (Festival Park Roundabout) and A500 D Road /Etruria Way ( Basford Roundabout). INRIX, a traffic data company, reports the accident has happened near Etruria Park and the road is blocked in both directions. The accident is believed to have taken place at around 9.30am and reopened at 11.30am Traffic was queuing in the area – with police asking motorists to seek alternative routes if possible. A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: “A53 – Etruria Vale Road was currently closed in both directions whilst officers respond to an incident. “We had the A53 closed both directions due to an incident by Festival Park.” Read MorePolice probe after North Staffordshire woman, 56, found dead in Central America The section of road reported blocked (Image: Google/INRIX) The approximate location of the accident The closure led to queuing traffic on other major roads in the area including Trinity Street in Hanley and the A500 Southbound. A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said they had sent two ambulances to the scene and taken a man to hospital. She said: “We were called by Staffordshire Police to reports of a man in cardiac arrest in a lorry. “Police performed CPR on the scene. Two ambulances attended and paramedics took over advanced life support. “The man has been taken on blue lights to Royal Stoke University Hospital.” Police find £250k cannabis factory There is no other reported traffic disruption in the city at the moment. For more live traffic and travel news from across Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire and South Cheshire visit our daily live news service here.