Google Assistant gets a customized alarm, based on weather and time

Alarm clocks were one of the most obvious implementations since the introduction of the smart screen. Devices like Lenovo’s Smart Clock and the Amazon Echo Show 5 have demonstrated some interesting features in the bedside display form factor, and Google has worked with the former to refine the experience.

This morning, the company introduced a handful of features to refine the experience. “Impromptu” is an interesting new addition to the portfolio that constructs a customized alarm based on a series of factors, including weather and time of day.

Here’s what a 50-degree, early-morning wake-up sounds like:


Not a bad thing to wake up to. A little Gershwin-esque, perhaps. 

Per a blog post that went up this morning, the alarm ringtone is based on the company’s open-source project, Magenta. Google AI describes it thusly:

Magenta was started by researchers and engineers from the Google Brain team, but many others have contributed significantly to the project. We develop new deep learning and reinforcement learning algorithms for generating songs, images, drawings, and other materials. But it’s also an exploration in building smart tools and interfaces that allow artists and musicians to extend their processes using these models. We use TensorFlow and release our models and tools in open source on our GitHub.

The new feature rolls out today.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Alexa gets an improved voice and can now sound like Samuel L. Jackson, too

At its hardware event in Seattle, Amazon today announced that it is launching a new Neural Text to Speech model for its Alexa personal assistant. This new model, which isn’t unlike what some of Amazon’s competitors like Google and Microsoft have launched in the past, uses the latest machine learning techniques to allow the company to build this new model which is meant to be more “emotive and expressive.”

In addition, the company today announced that your Echo can soon sound like Samuel L. Jackson, too. Using the same technology (instead of pre-recorded phrases), Alexa can now mimic celebrity voices, with Jackson’s being the first of them. That Samuel L. Jackson mode also comes in an explicit version.

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Additional voices will roll out next year, but they won’t be available for free. Instead, they’ll cost $ 0.99 each (at least at first). It’s a fun gimmick, I guess, but it’s really not much more than that and harkens back to the days of stand-alone GPS units that often had a similar feature.

The pace of innovation is incredible and what we can do with machine learning really never ceases to amaze me,” Amazon’s Dave Limp said in today’s keynote.This same neural network technology though gives us a lot more flexibility now in and around what we can do with the Alexa voice.”

Gadgets – TechCrunch

The best mouse you can buy finally gets USB-C with Logitech’s new MX Master 3

Logitech has delivered a new version of its popular MX Master mouse – the MX Master 3. This brand new iteration of the wireless mouse finally adds USB-C charging, which brings it in line with the charging standards used on most modern smartphones and computer accessories. Along with the MX Master 3, Logitech also debuted its new MX Keys wireless keyboard, which gives you a lot of what’s great about their fantastic Logitech Craft keyboard in a more affordable, slightly trimmed down package.

The MX Master 3 mouse isn’t just about adding USB-C (although that alone might be reason enough for me to upgrade, personally). It also packs new scroll wheel technology that is 90 percent faster, 8 percent more precise, and almost entirely silent, according to Logitech.

Along with its improvements, it comes with the same highly accurate 4,000 DPI tracking sensor, which uses Logitech’s ‘Darkfield’ technology that optimizes tracking on virtually every surface. The built-in battery is good for as many as 70 days on a full charge, and via the new USB-C quick charging, you’ll get a full day of use in just three minutes of charging.

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The body is slightly redesigned on this mouse, too, but only slightly so it’s probably going to feel just as comfortable if you’re a fan of the existing Master series. The MX Master 3 retails for $ 99.99 and is on sale now via Logitech directly and Amazon.

The MX Keys keyboard, which is also on sale now with a retail price of $ 99.99. It has illuminated keys, with automatic hand detection, which you can turn off if you want for longer battery life. You an also get an optional add-on detachable palm rest for more ergonomic typing. This looks like a really promising piece of hardware based on the reputation of the excellent Logitech Craft, but a much better bargain.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

GitHub gets a CI/CD service

Microsoft’s GitHub today launched the beta of a new version of GitHub Actions with full continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) capabilities built right into the service. General availability is planned for November 13.

The company also today announced that it now has more than 40 million developers on its platform.

Ten months ago, GitHub launched Actions, its workflow automation platform. Developers could already take actions to trigger all kinds of events and use that to build custom CI/CD pipelines. At launch, the GitHub team stressed that Actions allowed for building these pipelines, but that it was a lot more than that. Still, developers were obviously quite interested in using Actions for CI/CD.

“Since we introduced GitHub Actions last year, the response has been phenomenal, and developers have created thousands of inspired workflows,” writes GitHub CEO Nat Friedman in today’s announcement. “But we’ve also heard clear feedback from almost everyone: you want CI/CD! And that’s what we’re announcing today.”

With this updated version of Actions, developers can now build, test and deploy their code on any platform and run their workflows in containers or virtual machines. Developers also can test multiple versions of their applications in parallel thanks to a new feature called “matrix builds,” which lets you, for example, test three different versions of Node.js on Linux, Windows and MacOS at the same time. Because GitHub Actions are defined in a basic YAML file, making those changes is only a matter of adding a few lines to the file.

Supported languages and frameworks include Node.js, Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, C/C++, .NET, Android and iOS. Actions is also integrated with the GitHub Package Registry.

As the application is built, you also get live logs streamed to the Action console, and it’s easy to link to any line in a log file to discuss issues with the rest of your team.

These new features are available for free during the beta and will remain free for all public repositories.

Actions for GitHub Enterprise Server will launch next year and will include a hybrid option that will allow you to keep the code in a private data center and still use GitHub to orchestrate the workflows.

“GitHub Actions is the democratization of CI/CD and software automation. Developers can write workflows reacting to any GitHub platform event and reference open-source GitHub Actions — reusable pieces of code — to supercharge their software lifecycle the same way they are used to writing application code,” said Max Schoening, GitHUb’s senior director of Product Design. “It truly is community-powered CI/CD with a pricing model that works for everyone.”

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With this launch, GitHub is now also competing more directly with some of the CI/CD startups that have built businesses on top of the platform. That’s likely to create a bit of friction.

“GitHub has made a commitment to keeping their platform open to all partners, but only time will tell,” CircleCI CEO Jim Rose said in a statement. “Ultimately, developers are smart and will choose the best, most powerful tools available on the market, and we’re confident that that’s where CircleCI will continue to be. […] With more than nine years of data and experience on how teams move from idea to delivery, CircleCI is the leader in CI/CD and we are confident we have the best solution for developers.”

I expect that Rose’s comment will echo that of other CI/CD players, though it’s also worth noting, as Rose did, that Actions can be integrated with other continuous integration services to allow developers to trigger builds on their platforms. These providers can also make their own Actions available on GitHub.

“We see GitHub actions as complementary to what Codefresh does. It’s an additional way that users can leverage Codefresh to build robust pipelines in a scalable way. One interesting thing is that GitHub followed our lead in how they architected Actions. You can actually use GitHub actions as steps inside a Codefresh pipeline. So you see, we’re actually very aligned,” said Dan Garfield, the chief technology evangelist at CI/CD platform Codefresh. “Developers can find the Codefresh action right on GitHub!”

When I asked GitHub about this, Schoening provided the following statement: “GitHub and our community believe in choice and an open ecosystem. That is something we take seriously and build into everything we do. GitHub Actions lets developers integrate with all their existing tooling, mix and match new developer products, and hook into all parts of the software lifecycle, including existing CI/CD partners.”


Android – TechCrunch