Majority of Alexa Now Running on Faster, More Cost-Effective Amazon EC2 Inf1 Instances

Today, we are announcing that the Amazon Alexa team has migrated the vast majority of their GPU-based machine learning inference workloads to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Inf1 instances, powered by AWS Inferentia. This resulted in 25% lower end-to-end latency, and 30% lower cost compared to GPU-based instances for Alexa’s text-to-speech workloads. The lower latency allows Alexa engineers to innovate with more complex algorithms and to improve the overall Alexa experience for our customers.
AWS built AWS Inferentia chips from the ground up to provide the lowest-cost machine learning (ML) inference in the cloud. They power the Inf1 instances that we launched at AWS re:Invent 2019. Inf1 instances provide up to 30% higher throughput and up to 45% lower cost per inference compared to GPU-based G4 instances, which were, before Inf1, the lowest-cost instances in the cloud for ML inference.
Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo devices


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Amazon Fire TV now pulls in live TV content from Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV

Amazon is upgrading its Fire TV’s live TV experience through new integrations with several live TV streaming services, including Sling TV, YouTube TV, and Hulu + Live TV. Live content from these services will now appear within key areas with the Fire TV user interface, including the Fire TV’s Live tab and Channel Guide, making Fire TV feel even more like a cable TV replacement than before.
Already, Amazon Fire TV had offered integrations with nearly 20 other apps in a similar fashion, including live TV apps like Philo and Pluto TV, as well as its own Prime Video Channels.
But the addition of Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV brings in the three largest and most popular apps among cord cutters who are paying for a live TV experience. Sling TV has 2.31 million subscribers; YouTube TV has over 2 million; and Hulu + Live TV has 3.3


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Amazon’s revamped Alexa app makes it easier to manage your smart home

Amazon’s Alexa app has just been given a major visual overhaul, largely focused on helping users set up and control their smart home. From the app’s new devices tab, users can view all their different Alexa-enabled devices and groups on one screen, as opposed to switching between tabs like before. And the app is much more colorful, too. Instead of a set white icons on a dark background, Alexa’s device groups – like Living Room, Kitchen, Bedroom, etc. – now feature colorful backgrounds, so you can find the one you need with just a glance.
An overhaul of the devices section was needed, not only for aesthetic reasons, but because Alexa owners are stocking their house with more than one smart device.
According to a Nielsen report on smart speaker adoption released earlier this month, 4 out of 10 U.S. smart speaker owners today have more than one device, for example. Smart


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Now Alexa can adjust your Echo’s EQ

Alexa is finally getting an equalizer feature, letting users adjust EQ settings with commands like “Alexa, decrease the treble.” It’s nice feature that I’m honestly a bit surprised the company didn’t introduce a while back. After it rolls out over the next couple of days, you’ll be able to satisfyingly tell your Echo, “Alexa, turn up the bass.”
The full features are only coming to the U.S. for the time being, making it possible to adjust different bands between -6 db and 6 db on the standard Echo, the Dot, Plus, Show and Echo Spot.
The company is also offering up the feature for developers and has provided it to third-party speaker manufacturers, for use on products like the Polk Command Bar and Sonos Beam. That, at least, is part of the company’s push to get Alexa on as many non-Echo devices as possible, as it looks to compete with premium smart speakers


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How to Create Your Own Custom Alexa Skills

Your Amazon Echo device is already pretty customizable in terms of what skills you add to it. What you may not realize is if you don’t find a skill out there that’s quite what you’re looking for, you can actually make your own using Alexa’s Skill Blueprints.Read more…


Original URL: https://lifehacker.com/how-to-create-your-own-custom-alexa-skills-1826903743

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Amazon’s new ‘Alexa Blueprints’ let anyone create custom Alexa skills and responses

Amazon this morning is introducing “Alexa Blueprints,” a new way for any Alexa owner to create their own customized Alexa skills or responses, without needing to know how to code. The idea is to allow Alexa owners to create their own voice apps, like a trivia game or bedtime stories, or teach Alexa to respond to questions with answers they design – like “Who’s the best mom in the world?,” for example.
You could also create a skill that includes helpful information for the babysitter, which could be triggered by the command, “Alexa, open My Sitter,” Amazon suggests.
“Alexa Skill Blueprints is an entirely new way for you to teach Alexa personalized skills just for you and your family,” explained Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa, in a statement about the launch. “You don’t need experience building skills or coding to get started—my family created our own jokes skill in a matter


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Amazon’s Alexa Skills Developer Console gets its biggest redesign since launch

 Amazon today is rolling out the biggest makeover for its Alexa Skills Kit Developer Console – the console where voice app developers create their skills – since its debut back in 2015. The new console has been redesigned with a focus on improving developer workflows, says Amazon. It now offers separate sections for “build,” “test,” “launch,”… Read More


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MythQuiz builds Alexa tutor at Disrupt Hackathon

 Most people use Amazon’s Alexa to answer their questions, but what about using it to test what you already know? That’s the idea behind MythQuiz, an audio flashcard platform. It was created by physical therapy student Lacey Hineman and her father, engineer Francis Hineman at TechCrunch Disrupt’s Hackathon in San Francisco. They were also joined by product manager, Phillip… Read More


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Amazon enables free calls and messages on all Echo devices with Alexa Calling

 Amazon may have flopped with the Fire Phone, but don’t count it out of the telephony game just yet. Alongside Amazon unveiling its newest Echo device earlier today (the Echo Show), the company also announced Alexa Calling, free voice calls and messaging services that you use through all Echo devices (not just the Show), as well as for users of the Alexa app for smartphones. Read More


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