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Amazon and Google double down on hands-free recipes to help sell their smart displays

Amazon and Google have identified a solid use case for their smart speaker devices, powered by Alexa and Google Assistant, respectively: recipes. The companies this week have both announced new product features that aim to help users cook hands-free while guided by the voice assistant. Amazon this week rolled out a new feature integration in partnership with BuzzFeed’s recipe site Tasty to offer step-by-step voice and video instructions to Alexa users. Meanwhile, Google partnered with entrepreneur and chef Ayesha Curry to bring her recipes to Google Assistant. Curry’s recipes will…

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Google announces Action Blocks, a new accessibility tool for creating mobile shortcuts

Google today announced Action Blocks, a new accessibility tool that allows you to create shortcuts for common multi-step tasks with the help of the Google Assistant. In that respect, Action Blocks isn’t all that different from Shortcuts on iOS, for example, but Google is specifically looking at this as an accessibility feature for people with cognitive disabilities. “If you’ve booked a rideshare using your phone recently, you’ve probably had to go through several steps: unlock your phone, find the right app, navigate through its screens, select appropriate options, and enter…

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Lenovo slims down its Google smart display

Before there was the Nest Home — heck, before there was even the Google Home Hub — there was the Lenovo Smart Display. The smart screen was far and away the nicest of the original Google Assistant screens, and the partnership between the two companies continues to be fruitful, including the recent Smart Clock, a purpose-built bedside alarm clock. With the Smart Display 7, announced today at IFA in Berlin, the company has slimmed down both the screen size and overall device footprint. At seven inches, it’s smaller than both…

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Google launches new Assistant developer tools

At its I/O conference, Google today announced a slew of new tools for developers who want to build experiences for the company’s Assistant platform. These range from the ability to build games for smart displays, like the Google Home Hub and the launch of App Actions for taking users from an Assistant answer to their native apps, to a new Local Home SDK that allows developers to run their smart home code locally on Google Home Speakers and Nest Displays. This Local Home SDK may actually be the most important…

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8 big announcements from Google I/O 2018

Google kicked off its annual I/O developer conference at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. Here are some of the biggest announcements from the Day 1 keynote. There will be more to come over the next couple of days, so follow along on everything Google I/O on TechCrunch.  Google goes all in on artificial intelligence, rebranding its research division to Google AI Just before the keynote, Google announced it is rebranding its Google Research division to Google AI. The move signals how Google has increasingly focused R&D on computer vision,…

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How Google could fire up its smart home play

When it was unveiled at last years I/O, Home felt like little more than Googles attempt to cash in on the Echos success. And the intervening year hasnt done a lot to dispel that notion. The company announced a handful of additions to Home and Assistant at this years event to try to pull even with Amazons lead, but the whole Google Home offering still feels ambling and aimless. That Google thought it had a slam dunk with Assistant on the mobile side hasnt helped much, either. Since launching on…

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