Make calls, texts with Alexa
Alexa calling Alexa is about to take on the phone companies—allowing Alexa users to call and text each other for free through Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or the Alexa app. When the features will go live is not yet known, although Amazon's web site says it's "coming soon." What is known is that a green ring of light will glow when a call is coming through the device, allowing users to answer the call or ignore it. You'll only be able to contact other Alexa users—a closed loop space akin to using Facebook Messenger.
Amazon is also pushing a new device called Echo Show which will support video as well: Think FaceTime. Amazon Show is supporting a feature called "Drop In" and it's kind of what the name sounds like: an instant video window into someone's home—without them actually answering. Amazon isn't offering a ton of details around this new tool other than users will use it "...for special cases with your closest family and friends – for example, when you want to drop in to check on an elderly relative, let the family know it's time for dinner, or check on the baby in the nursery," according to its site.
You can also choose to activate certain Echo Show devices with Drop In, so maybe the Amazon Show in the kitchen supports the feature, while the one in the bedroom? Nope. For those who don't have an Amazon device, they'll still be able to be part of your network for calls and messages if they download the iOS and Android app.
Free AirPods That's what Apple may use to lure buyers to its (still rumored and unconfirmed) iPhone 8 expected to be released this year. So says 9to5Mac which cites a JP Morgan report saying the $159 AirPods could be tucked into the box instead of the standard EarPods. With Apple still not willing to state if a new iPhone is coming this year (it is), every detail is also up in the air. Would a $160 accessory get people to drop $1,000 on a new iPhone? Anything is possible.
Brain chips You carry a chip in your hand with your smartphone. But are you willing to have one embedded in your brain? Human-machine interfaces are thought to be the next terrain in connected technology, turning you into an IoT device. Doesn't sound right to you? We look at some examples of where this is happening. Right now.