Amazon Echo now works as a home intercom

Amazon has just pushed an update for its Echo family of smart speakers that enables a handy room-to-room intercom feature, making it a whole lot easier to snoop keep an eye on your entire family. If you’ve got multiple Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show devices around the house, you can now initiate walkie-talkie style chats between them with a voice command. You’ll need to first name each speaker and enable ‘drop-in’ on them, of course. In addition, you can start a call from the Alexa app on your phone from wherever you are. That’s useful for checking in your…

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Source:: The Next Web – Technology

Report: Valve’s former augmented reality system is no more

CastAR’s first prototype. Subsequent revisions brought the glasses’ size down and fidelity up, so that its mounted projectors would better convey the feeling that virtual objects appeared on a mat (also known as “augmented reality” or “mixed reality”). However, the project’s future is now in doubt. (credit: CastAR)

The future of CastAR, an ambitious augmented reality system that began life in Valve’s hardware labs five years ago, is now in serious doubt. A bleak Monday Tweet from a former CastAR staffer was followed by Polygon’s Brian Crecente reporting a full company shutdown.

Citing unnamed “former employees,” Polygon reported that the hardware maker’s primary finance group pulled all funding last week. This was allegedly followed by a full staff layoff and an announcement that the company’s remaining assets would be liquidated.

As of press time, neither CastAR nor its affiliated developer, Eat Sleep Play, have posted any confirmation of shut downs or liquidation. Ars Technica has reached out to CastAR co-founders Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson. We will update this report with any response.

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Source:: Ars Technica

Apple has banned Westpac’s innovative iPhone payment feature

Apple Pay has theoretically been available in Australia for a couple of years now, but the rollout has largely been stalled by the country’s Big Four banks (ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac), which have so far played hard-to-get, insisting on negotiating better terms with the Cupertino giant before offering the service to their customers.

And while ANZ finally struck a deal with Apple mid last year customers of the other three have been left hanging as the disagreement approaches its third year.

A new twist in the saga has seen a key Westpac banking feature being banned by the Cupertino giant.

Apple has informed Westpac that it needs to disable its Keyboard feature, which was launched only in March this year in partnership with Israeli startup PayKey.

The feature wasn’t directly related to Apple Pay, instead giving customers banking options within popular messaging apps like SnapChat, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.

Dear customers…

The Australian Financial Review has laid its hand on a letter sent to Westpac customers, informing them that the Keyboard feature will be disabled in iOS from July.

It allowed users to send money to each other via chat apps by changing the default keyboard to a custom one that plugged into Westpac’s banking app and payment platform. Currently, this version of the Westpac app is available only on iOS, but an Android version is said to be on the cards, with the bank has stated that it will be made available to customers soon.

A Westpac spokesperson told the AFR, “This is disappointing for us and the thousands of customers who are currently using it. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused and thank them for their continued support.”

The reasons behind Apple’s decision are as yet unclear, but the company has indicated that its upcoming iOS …read more

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