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It's time small businesses had big business capabilities - Issue #28

It's time small businesses had big business capabilities - Issue #28
By Mari from VoiceFirst Weekly • Issue #28 • View online
This week has a few shake ups: Microsoft acquisition of XOXCO, Storyline is shutting down their service and launching Invocable, Amazon 10 000 people working in Alexa and more.
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The ultimate resource in voice technology.
The ultimate resource in voice technology.
Consumers love smart speakers, they don’t love news in smart speakers
That’s the conclusion The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism arrived in their report The future of voice and the implications for news. According to the report, the use of the devices for music and weather is still far ahead of news use and the main complain by consumers about flash briefings is that they are too long.
The main findings of the report are:
  • News consumption on smart speakers is lower than one might expect.
  • In terms of which news brand is used the most, the default matters a great deal.
  • Users expect the content of news briefings to be updated frequently.
  • Synthesized voices are hard to listen for many users.
  • There’s no way to skip stories.
  • Some updates have low production value or poor audio quality.
  • Podcast use on smart speakers, meanwhile, is still relatively low, citing they are more personal as one of the possible causes.
The full report and the accompanying article is very interesting for media companies and audio/podcast producers.
News updates among the least valued features in smart speakers.
News updates among the least valued features in smart speakers.
Storyline shuts down and the rise of Invocable
Storyline CEO announced in an email and a Facebook post in the company group a new service for multimodal voice design called Invocable. The announcement also carried the news they will be closing the service offered in Storyline which surprised creators that have their skills developed entirely in the platform. The Storyline team seems to be committed to support current skills, however, still does not have a clear plan for export outside of the platform so far. There are other tools available for visual creation of Alexa skills, but this might signal creators on what impact their work done in these tools might have later on for their applications. It’s clear that companies like Storyline are looking to grow and evolving their business model will be inevitable. What’s not clear is what impact will have for creators that are not necessarily developers.
Google Assistant adds capabilities ahead of the holidays
Google Assistant is introducing a bunch of new smart home features, including the ability to reply to broadcast messages, create and use cookbooks, and access enhanced storybook content for kids.
For the kids, Google has added to the list a book called Ara the Star Engineer, a book written by female Google engineer Komal Sing with the goal of encouraging girls to consider STEM careers.
Notable in this update is the Family Link for kids accounts that will be able to do most activities other users do, except for things like making purchases.
The race to conquer the connected home continues especially between Amazon and Google smart assistants.
May A.I help you
A NYT thoughtful piece on A.I chatbots impact on human behaviour. Expands on how intelligent chatbots could automate away nearly all our commercial integrations - for better or for worse. Covers chatbots examples with profound impact in their users’ lives. And how chatbots might impact employment or help with mental health issues. Talking bots connect to us in ways that point-and-click software doesn’t. We might be building software that pretends to care … A future in which only the wealthy have the luxury of being attended to by actual humans, while everyone else makes do with bots, would certainly be a dystopia.
Very interesting ethical questions for bots creators.
In the news
Our daily briefing had a guest for the first time. Listen to my talk with Aider CEO Brendan Roberts about the work they are doing with the AI assistant for small businesses.
Did you catch my second look at Bixby during the Samsung Developer Conference? I do think Bixby might enter the race late but steady. I especially loved their image recognition Bixby app.
VoiceFirst Weekly team will be at the Alexa Conference this January 15-17 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Register here.
Quote of the week
The impact of conversational A.I. on everyday life will be subtle but ubiquitous.
Clive Thompson
Did you enjoy this issue?
Mari from VoiceFirst Weekly

The ultimate resource in #VoiceFirst. Weekly digest of the most relevant news in the #VoiceFirst ecosystem. Everything from voice assistants to bots including conversational AI and published audio.

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