The Morning After: Amazon reveals its periscope-equipped Alexa robot

·Bureau Chief, UK
·4 min read

Amazon’s annual barrage of new Echo hardware didn’t disappoint, ranging from role-playing games to nutrition tracking, drones and videocall devices for kids. I think the new 15-inch Echo Show, a smart screen to mount on your wall, was the most intriguing reveal.

The Morning After
The Morning After

Amazon has redesigned its home screen to make the most of all that extra display space, and you can customize it so part of the screen scrolls through ambient content, like headlines and weather updates. Aimed at families, the Echo Show 15 also has a new visual ID feature that can recognize your face and show you personalized information, like calendar appointments, reminders and notes.

Amazon and Google dominate the smart displays space, and I might be the rare exception of having not a single Alexa-powered device in my home. So far, Amazon’s devices haven’t offered anything particularly compelling for me. I have a Google smart display, which smoothly integrates with Google Calendar, Google Maps and the rest. It’s hard for me to generate much enthusiasm for the Echo range.

Now, having said that, let me contradict myself entirely.

If you like your Alexa devices on wheels and with precarious extendable, periscope cameras, then perhaps Amazon’s Astro robot might get you excited. (Or worried.) Amazon plans to sell its first robot in limited quantities later this year. It will eventually cost $1,450, but as part of its Day 1 Editions program, the company will sell the robot at an introductory price of $1,000.

— Mat Smith

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IKEA’s new customizable Sonos speaker lamp launches October 12th

Starting from $169, depending on the shade.

The Morning After
The Morning After

IKEA and Sonos’ new, more customizable version of their Symfonisk speaker lamp arrives on October 12th. The furniture giant will sell the new model's lamp base and shade separately, so you can mix and match parts to ensure the final product fits the vibe of your home.

IKEA’s Stjepan Begic said they decided to make the base smaller after finding out a lot of people use the Symfonisk lamp on their nightstand. You’ll be able to choose between two types of shades: textile or glass, while the lamps themselves come in black or white. The new model also supports a wider range of bulbs, thanks to a different E26/E27 socket.

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You can now sign up to test Ring’s home security drone

The invitation-only program will help refine the technology.

Ring says its Always Home Cam, its first home security drone, will soon arrive in select households. Users will be able to sign up to join an invite-only testing program to help refine the hardware before it hits shelves. In the US, at least, Ring owners can sign up to help develop what its makers are calling a “very ambitious device.”

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Microsoft CEO: TikTok negotiation 'strangest thing I've ever worked on'

I doubt any of us are surprised.

This time last year, ByteDance was trying to save its TikTok app in the US and elsewhere after Donald Trump's administration threatened to ban it. One potential savior was Microsoft.

It was a mess. It all started when Trump threatened to force Chinese company ByteDance to sell TikTok to a US owner, citing privacy and security concerns. Microsoft stepped in as a potential buyer, though the company, in the end, struck a deal with Oracle and Walmart, which President Joe Biden's administration scrapped in February 2021.

Microsoft was in the middle of negotiations with ByteDance when Trump told reporters he'd rather ban the app than allow it to be sold to a US company. That "threw into disarray the careful negotiations we had pursued with ByteDance” to buy TikTok’s business in the US and the three other countries, CEO Satya Nadella wrote. Trump only relented and allowed a deal to happen after Nadella called him personally.

After Oracle's winning bid, ByteDance said Trump had "ghosted" the site, effectively going silent after ordering the company to divest its US TikTok assets.

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Amazon's 'New World' MMORPG is finally here

It’s very, very important for Amazon Game Studios.

After four delays spanning nearly a year and a half of missed release dates, New World is finally here, available to Steam and Amazon’s own marketplace, starting at $40. The MMORPG will be crucial to Amazon Game Studios’ future. After the very public failure of Crucible, which it terminated not too long after its launch, the company needs to prove it can deliver compelling games — and keep them going. Hopefully, all those delays have ensured New World arrives with its best foot forward.

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