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  #21  
Old 04.10.2016, 21:19
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

I was secretly hoping this wouldn't be the case - but it's very much as expected: Google Home is very much a US-only affair for the time being. Anyway, my second Echo is coming in tomorrow :-)
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  #22  
Old 05.10.2016, 10:18
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Yeah, US only for now, but it looks great and the features are a step ahead of Echo I think.

I hope they'll release to Europe soon, but if not, I'm off to Boston in March next year, so I'll pick a couple up (presuming they are usable outside the states, and it doesn't keep giving me the weather forecast for Zurich, Kansas!).

As someone with decent home speakers and an AV receiver, the prospect of sticking a chromecast in and just saying "OK Google, play Dr Hook on the Chromecast" fills me with joy.
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  #23  
Old 05.10.2016, 10:31
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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Yeah, US only for now, but it looks great and the features are a step ahead of Echo I think.

I hope they'll release to Europe soon, but if not, I'm off to Boston in March next year, so I'll pick a couple up (presuming they are usable outside the states, and it doesn't keep giving me the weather forecast for Zurich, Kansas!).
The problem is that these things seem to have been developed by Nest or at least parts of the Nest team. You can geolocate Nest products anywhere in Europe, except for Switzerland. They simply don't have Swiss addresses stored, which is a massive joke, considering that Google's European HQ is in Zurich. I can't, for example, have my 4 Nest Protects recognize when I'm home. They get the correct GPS location but if you view it in the integrated map, it just shows as blank terrain. The assistant that helps me with the location suggests I pick the nearest location in Southern Germany. Which doesn't work for home / away detection as it's outside the detection radius.

I doubt things will be different for Home - you'll likely be able to use them here but without the local businesses listed, without local services connected etc. it's all kind of pointless. Another obstacle would be language detection. Echo, for example, detects my voice perfectly as long as I speak English, but if queries involve German (in terms of sounds) locations and phonemes, even music stations on Amazon Prime, things fail miserably.

I have the feeling that Amazon, Google and Apple (still no Siri remote for Switzerland) just don't work well in Switzerland because the Swiss' accents deviate too much from standard High German, so they don't launch the products here. Importing them is an option, of course.

Another issue is more personal: I'm just not sure if I want to speak German to such a device - and that would be the only option to get German businesses and services to work properly. I'm a native speaker, but since we've elected to speak English at home in order to have the kids grow up bilingual, it would seem unnatural.
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  #24  
Old 05.10.2016, 11:43
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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The problem is that these things seem to have been developed by Nest or at least parts of the Nest team. You can geolocate Nest products anywhere in Europe, except for Switzerland. They simply don't have Swiss addresses stored, which is a massive joke, considering that Google's European HQ is in Zurich. I can't, for example, have my 4 Nest Protects recognize when I'm home. They get the correct GPS location but if you view it in the integrated map, it just shows as blank terrain. The assistant that helps me with the location suggests I pick the nearest location in Southern Germany. Which doesn't work for home / away detection as it's outside the detection radius.

I doubt things will be different for Home - you'll likely be able to use them here but without the local businesses listed, without local services connected etc. it's all kind of pointless. Another obstacle would be language detection. Echo, for example, detects my voice perfectly as long as I speak English, but if queries involve German (in terms of sounds) locations and phonemes, even music stations on Amazon Prime, things fail miserably.

I have the feeling that Amazon, Google and Apple (still no Siri remote for Switzerland) just don't work well in Switzerland because the Swiss' accents deviate too much from standard High German, so they don't launch the products here. Importing them is an option, of course.

Another issue is more personal: I'm just not sure if I want to speak German to such a device - and that would be the only option to get German businesses and services to work properly. I'm a native speaker, but since we've elected to speak English at home in order to have the kids grow up bilingual, it would seem unnatural.


Interesting points, but I thought the underlying app for this was Google Now / Google Cards / Google Assistant / whatever they are calling it this month.


If you have an Android phone running any of the last 2 OSs, then swipe right on the homescreen, and you probably have a big array of localised cards - weather, transport, sports stuff, things to do etc.


For sure it will be able to control your Nest thermostat and a few other Smart Home devices, but I'd be shocked if it used Nest's internal mappings as opposed to Google Maps / Google everything else.


You're right on speaking an English / German hybrid to it though; not sure how you'd say "what are the opening times of Rüsterei Sihlcity" in a purely english way!!
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  #25  
Old 05.10.2016, 12:38
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Nest does use Google Maps - they have just disabled Switzerland on it :-) Nest is only sold in a handful of countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, France etc.), yet all of Europe is available for the Home & Away feature - all of Europe except for Switzerland. I've asked support about why this is and the answer I got was, essentially: don't know, don't care.

Perhaps they're holding a grudge against Switzerland because Zurich has become increasingly hesitant to giving Google tax incentives lately.

Google has now removed the Nexus devices from their Swiss online shop as well - but according to some comments I read yesterday, there are no plans to make the new devices (including the new phones) available in Switzerland at all. They're following the same roll-out scheme as with Nest: UK, France, Benelux. Germany will follow in November, so we could at least import them from there :-)
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  #26  
Old 05.10.2016, 14:01
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Hmm, not good at all! Let's see what happens with the Euro rollout I suppose...I guess weather in Hohentengen am Hochrhein might have to suffice
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  #27  
Old 05.10.2016, 14:02
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

yeah, I think for the weather it's a non-issue for most of us living in the "Mittelland"
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  #28  
Old 05.10.2016, 14:26
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Not sure what else really needs to be localised though?
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  #29  
Old 05.10.2016, 14:55
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Well, the Echo will let you call an Uber, order food, give you results for local sports teams, public transport schedules, traffic info for your morning commute etc.

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  #30  
Old 06.10.2016, 09:11
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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Well, the Echo will let you call an Uber, order food, give you results for local sports teams, public transport schedules, traffic info for your morning commute etc.

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Ooh, I like the Uber idea, and that it would tell you every minute or two - your uber is x minutes away.


Food I'm not sure about though, as much as I'd enjoy getting an unexpected Dominos delivery, if it hears me talking about something else, I think using it properly would be a fiddle. I'd like a Margherita with x and x and x, 7 chicken strippers with BBQ sauce...I can't imagine it is going to be too accurate or useful for most food services. It may be useful however if you knew when you were going to be home and could tell it, at 19:30, order what I had last time from Dominos - and your linked Dominos account would have that in its history.


I don't need local sports teams results, it's easy enough to guess how the two Zurich football teams will have fared
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  #31  
Old 06.10.2016, 09:16
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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it's easy enough to guess how the two Zurich football teams will have fared
And guess you'll have to as Echo doesn't support Swiss sports teams anyway :-) Yeah, the food thing is more of a gimmick. The echo has access to the Jamie Oliver recipe database. I tried to use that but it's a pain in the butt - it chases you through lengthy dialogs in which you tell the ingredients you want in the recipe and in the end all it does is send you an email (rather than, say, help you cook the stuff by walking you through the recipe as you stand in the kitchen).
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  #32  
Old 06.10.2016, 11:43
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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And guess you'll have to as Echo doesn't support Swiss sports teams anyway :-) Yeah, the food thing is more of a gimmick. The echo has access to the Jamie Oliver recipe database. I tried to use that but it's a pain in the butt - it chases you through lengthy dialogs in which you tell the ingredients you want in the recipe and in the end all it does is send you an email (rather than, say, help you cook the stuff by walking you through the recipe as you stand in the kitchen).
"Add more salt. Add more salt. Add more salt. That's too much."
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  #33  
Old 07.10.2016, 18:02
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Oh crap, my Alexa just got "Germanized". Language is still US English, but the skills selection is now showing German content, meaning that stuff like Smartthings is gone.

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  #34  
Old 21.11.2016, 09:32
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Seems that although you can't actually buy it in Europe, Google Home works anywhere...

https://www.reddit.com/r/googlehome/...tside_the_usa/

Now, just need to figure out how to get it here...
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  #35  
Old 21.11.2016, 14:45
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Have spent a couple weeks with Echo dot.....

Localisation issues are a) that I have to ask the weather in Zürich, rather than just asking the weather (it would report my uk address), and b) that it cannot give me information about my daily commute traffic conditions

Voice recognition seems to be about on a par with Siri, which is to say, it probably recognises between 6 and 8 of my requests out of every 10 made. Of course, not amazing, but not bad considering some requests can be on the complicated side.

On the plus side, when it works, it's great.

The standout feature so far is Spotify control. Ask it to play songs or a specific song from Abba, and you'll be a dancing queen before you know it.

Second up for me is another music feature, which is tunein radio. I simply say, play bbc radio 2 and it is playing two seconds later. That is great.

Third thing I use is asking it the news when I wake up, and you can get a five minute briefing from wherever you want, I have the standard American one and BBC. This is read out in a newscasters voice, not in the robot voice of Alexa.

It can also work my Philips Hue lights (though Siri seems to do a better job)

Another thing with promise is it takes over my Logitech harmony remote, so I can tell it to switch on the TV and it will (based on my complicated harmony setup).

Apart from that, it has a fairly large supply of cheesy jokes if you ask it for one, and if you ask for example what year was jurassic park released or who starred in it, it does a pretty good job.

Many other things too, but that is what comes to mind.

I now have one for each floor of my house, and a blutooth speaker attached to the living floor one so that I can listen to the radio in the kitchen.

I'm looking forward to google home, but echo dot is a great thing for £50 and to be recommended.
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  #36  
Old 21.11.2016, 14:45
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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Seems that although you can't actually buy it in Europe, Google Home works anywhere...

https://www.reddit.com/r/googlehome/...tside_the_usa/

Now, just need to figure out how to get it here...
give it a few months - once it's available from places like bhphotovideo and Amazon.com, it's easy to import it.

The questions is whether one wants to trust Google in Trumpian America :-)
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  #37  
Old 21.11.2016, 14:51
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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Have spent a couple weeks with Echo dot.....

Localisation issues are a) that I have to ask the weather in Zürich, rather than just asking the weather (it would report my uk address), and b) that it cannot give me information about my daily commute traffic conditions
Logitech Harmony and IFTTT don't work yet for the UK version. The European versions seems to lag behind a bit in terms of functionality. Weather-wise I'm good as I live 2 km from Constance, but yeah, commute info doesn't work (which is a non-issue in Thurgau :-)

Recognition gradually improves if you take the time to review the questions / answers on alexa.amazon.co.uk once in a while. By now, it understands about 95% of what I say and it even understands my 4-year-old son (which sucks as he keeps adding candy to the shopping list and is favourite song is "We will rock you" by Queen (which is a great song, but I've heard it about 50 times over the last 2 weeks ...)

We own 2 Echos and 6 Dots now (they had a sale for the 6-pack :-/ - I have 5 of them in use. The only gripe I have is that they're regular ray-guns in terms of EM-radiation (which I'm trying to keep in check because we have two small children at home). So I moved the one in the living room to a remote corner and removed the one in my wife's office (where the kids spend most of their time playing). Don't know why, but they don't seem to support wifi output throttling - they constantly transmit at 100mw, so it's like putting a Wifi access point in every room and running it at full transmit power.
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  #38  
Old 21.11.2016, 14:55
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

Dawiz, you are wrong, Logitech works for the UK version. I have it set up and working.

You must speak the Queen's English very eloquently. I'll stick with my 60 to 80% recognition rate for now, though it probably is slightly closer to 80 than 60, just depending on usage.
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  #39  
Old 21.11.2016, 15:01
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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Dawiz, you are wrong, Logitech works for the UK version. I have it set up and working.

You must speak the Queen's English very eloquently. I'll stick with my 60 to 80% recognition rate for now, though it probably is slightly closer to 80 than 60, just depending on usage.
I speak AE and have the Alexas set to that as well. I'd fail miserably at making it understand my BE attempts. I can't find Harmony in the skills!? How did you set it up?
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  #40  
Old 21.11.2016, 15:02
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Re: Amazon Echo / Alexa

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Seems that although you can't actually buy it in Europe, Google Home works anywhere...

https://www.reddit.com/r/googlehome/...tside_the_usa/

Now, just need to figure out how to get it here...
On sale in the USA starting this Wed.
Will shamelessly order one on Wed to colleague's house for him to bring over on his next biz trip.
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