Technology Pentagram designed a smart speaker that’s like HitClips for kids
Apple HomePod gets $100 price cut at Best Buy – but how long will it last?
Apple's smart speaker goes big on audio, but its high retail price is usually a big barrier – not so at Best Buy.The Apple HomePod sits at the quality end of the smart speaker scale, but this new Best Buy deal sees a third slashed off the previous $300 price tag, bringing it down to the price of the new Amazon Echo Studio, or Google Home Max.
, a connected speaker for kids, has more in common with old-school cassette players than smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home devices. It deliberately doesn’t have a microphone, camera, or a screen — it’s really just designed to play audio, but through NFC-enabled physical cards. Inspired by Montessori teachings that emphasize tactile learning and encourage kids to have a level of independence, the cards are loaded with songs, audiobooks, and podcasts to let kids choose what they want to listen to. It was created by two parents who wanted to minimize screen time for their kids — compare to Bluetooth speakers that need to be paired with a phone — and after a successful Kickstarter run with its first version, Yoto partnered with Pentagram, (the renowned design studio behind everything from to ) for a second run.
Amazon unveils a portable battery-powered Echo
Amazon hasn't built a portable Echo device since the little-loved Tap, but that situation has now changed. The retail giant has unveiled the Echo Input (Portable Smart Speaker Edition) exclusively for the Indian market. It has 360-degree sound and comes with a 4800mAh battery that powers it for 10 hours of continuous music playback and 11 hours of standby life. Unlike the dongle-like Echo Input, this model doesn't let you use Alexa with a dumb speaker. Rather, Amazon sees it as a way to bring Alexa with you. "Portability has been one of the most requested features in India," Amazon devices VP Miriam Daniel told TechCrunch.
The physical cards slot into the top of the speaker like the nostalgic, which encased bite-sized clips of music in tiny plastic squares. Parents can connect the speaker to a companion app to “upload” their own content onto blank cards, or purchase cards that connect to Yoto’s library of music, activities, sound effects, and audiobooks from partners like Random House and the Roald Dahl collection. The speaker requires Wi-Fi, and the NFC cards contain links to content stored on Yoto’s servers, so the speaker is actually downloading content when they’re inserted into the Yoto Player. Blank cards can be customized with your own MP3s, purchased audiobooks, or anything you upload to Yoto’s server. There’s free daily content, but Yoto is also selling an annual subscription service that delivers new audio cards to your house four times a year, which costs $94. That seems like a lot to pay compared to the catalogs of audiobooks and music readily available on the Kindle library or streaming services, but parents are paying for the peace of mind knowing that their kids won’t be listened to, or subjected to an overwhelming selection of potentially child-unfriendly content.
Amazon introduces portable Echo smart speaker in India with 11 hours of battery life
Amazon added a new portable Echo device to its lineup of smart speakers, but for now it is only available in India. © Provided by Geekwire (Amazon Photo) The new Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition features an 11-hour battery life, including 10 hours of continuous music streaming. The device, which can also be plugged into an outlet, goes on sale Dec. 18. “Portability has been one of the most requested features in India,” Miriam Daniel, Amazon’s vice president of Alexa Devices told TechCrunch. “You want to be able to carry Alexa with you from room to room within your homes.
“As physical objects, [the cards] not only allow children to be in control of content, but also support learning and play, and for very young children also promote fine motor control development,” Pentagram’s Jon Marshall told.
The Yoto’s design is meant to be simple enough for kids to use, but sleek and modern in a way adults can appreciate. The only controls on the speaker are the two red knobs, and the soft edges of the blocky design let kids tip the speaker to turn it on and off. The soft-lit pixel display occasionally shows a friendly face or basic drawings. It can also be used as a regular Bluetooth speaker.
The speaker can charge wirelessly on top of a magnetic dock that comes included, and a built-in battery means kids can take the speaker with them wherever they go. It only lasts for about three hours of continuous play, which isn’t a lot for a wireless speaker, but Yoto says this will be improved through software updates. The Yoto Player costs $107, and will begin shipping this month.
Amazon is still crushing Google and Apple in the smart speaker market .
Alexa devices make up 70 percent of the home smart speaker market , and that trend will continue through 2021, a new eMarketer report predicts. Some 70 percent of US smart speaker users will use an Amazon Echo in 2020, close to last year’s 72.9 percent. By next year, that number may drop slightly to about 68.2 percent, according to the report. So Amazon’s lead is slowly falling, but it still holds a dominant position. © Photo by Chris Welch / The VergeIn contrast, eMarketer says just 31.