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Alexa’s cure for listlessness: How to make and manage lists with your Amazon Echo – CNET

It’s ridiculously easy to have Alexa add items to your grocery list the moment you think about them, especially in the kitchen when your hands are full. Chris Monroe/CNET I’m positively listless without lists — pun fully intended. My brain has this weird idle mode where, barring further instruction, it will immediately dive into a…

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Alexa’s cure for listlessness: How to make and manage lists with your Amazon Echo     – CNET

It’s ridiculously easy to have Alexa add items to your grocery list the moment you think about them, especially in the kitchen when your hands are full.
Chris Monroe/CNET
I’m positively listless without lists — pun fully intended. My brain has this weird idle mode where, barring further instruction, it will immediately dive into a rabbit hole that could end in watching a video on no-glue, no-screw Japanese wood joinery. (Seriously, it’s hypnotic.) I need lists to function as an adult in society and, if the confessions of friends and family are to be believed, so do a lot of other people. Back before mobile technology became ubiquitous and affordable, I carried a pocket notebook and a pen everywhere I’d go. Then along came smartphones and, with them, notepad apps. But then, one day, I learned how to make and manage lists with Alexa, and I’ve never looked back. It’s so much more intuitive to simply vocalize a grocery item I need while scanning the kitchen cupboards or to add an idea to my holiday gift list while I’m falling asleep without even opening my eyes. But what’s even better is what I see when I open the Alexa app to peruse my lists — while I was cleaning the kitchen or dreaming or whatever, Alexa was busy organizing my lists into categories. If ideas come to you as you’re trying to fall asleep, add them to a list with Alexa without having to open up your phone.
Chris Monroe/CNET
It doesn’t matter if I told Alexa to add “ice cream” in the morning, “apples” in the afternoon and “popsicles” and “bananas” in the evening. When I open my shopping list, both ice cream and popsicles are listed under “Frozen” foods, while apples and bananas are under “Produce.” And that’s the killer feature that makes list-making with Alexa so delightful. Here’s everything you need to know to get started making your own lists with Alexa.Alexa lists 101: The basicsTo add an item to a list, just say, “Alexa, add [item] to [name of list.]” Don’t worry if you don’t have the list you asked for created yet — Alexa will take care of that too. Regardless of what order you add items to your shopping list, Alexa will organize it into categories like “Frozen” and “Produce,” for easier shopping.
Chris Monroe/CNET
For example, I just said “Alexa, add ‘crossword puzzle’ to my Sunday Funday list.” The response was, “I couldn’t find a list called ‘Sunday Funday,’ should I create one?” Of course you should, Alexa! And add “veg in front of the TV” while you’re at it.To access your lists, open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet, tap More in the lower right corner, then tap Lists & Notes near the top. You’ll see the two default lists Alexa comes with, Shopping and To-do, followed by My Lists and any lists you’ve created (like Sunday Funday).When you’re finished with a list item (you’ve placed it in your grocery cart, for example), tap the square box to the left of the item to check it off. Don’t worry — checked items don’t disappear completely. They’re simply moved to the bottom of the list, where you can uncheck them if need be.You can also say, “Alexa, check off [item] from my [name of list]” to mark off items hands-free if Alexa is nearby (you’re wearing Echo Frames, say).You can shop your grocery list at Amazon Fresh or Amazon-owned Whole Foods. 
Chris Monroe/CNET
Advanced Alexa list-making techniques
Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET
If you scroll all the way to the bottom of your shopping list, past all the unchecked items and checked items, you’ll arrive at a section called Popular List Items. There, you can tap to your heart’s content at a positively massive list of popular grocery items — super helpful to make sure you didn’t forget anything before leaving for a grocery trip.Speaking of all those checked items — you certainly don’t want those hanging around forever, right? You can do two things with checked items: Clear them out completely or hide them (so you can unhide them again later, should you so choose).First, while looking at the list on the Alexa app, tap the three dots in the upper right corner. To clear out checked items completely, tap Clear Completed. To merely hide them, tap Hide Completed. To catch a glimpse at those items again, you’ll have to tap the three dots again, then tap Show Completed.For bonus points, either from inside that same three dots menu, or right beside the three dots at the top of your screen, you can also Share your list with others (which also allows them to add items themselves) or Turn off list sharing to revoke access to shared lists.Shop your list at Amazon or Whole Foods because of course you canThere’s also a big blue button at the top of your shopping list which, no surprises here, will search Amazon and Amazon-owned Whole Foods for your items as soon as you tap it. If Amazon Fresh is available in your area or you shop at Whole Foods anyway, go ahead and try it out. (Unfortunately, neither of those is true for me, so I’ve never tested this feature.)That’s about as complicated as it gets, which makes this feature pretty simple, even by Alexa standards. Happy listing!

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Turn yourself into a cartoon like everyone else on Instagram with the Voila AI Artist app – CNET

Voila AI Artist is the latest cartoon craze going around Facebook, Instagram and more. It’s free on iPhone and Android. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET When I first saw the cartoon avatar appear on my Facebook feed, my eyes went as wide as the cherubic rendering before me. It was my cousin’s daughters, but Disney-fied, with lighting that…

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Turn yourself into a cartoon like everyone else on Instagram with the Voila AI Artist app     – CNET

Voila AI Artist is the latest cartoon craze going around Facebook, Instagram and more. It’s free on iPhone and Android.
Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
When I first saw the cartoon avatar appear on my Facebook feed, my eyes went as wide as the cherubic rendering before me. It was my cousin’s daughters, but Disney-fied, with lighting that glowed, and supersize eyes quivering with emotion. “Which app is this?” I asked her, instantly needing to know. She told me: Voila AI Artist.Since then, creations from Voila AI Artist — an app that seemingly popped up out of nowhere — have mushroomed across my Facebook feed, and proliferate on Instagram and WhatsApp as well. (Both are owned by Facebook.) Drawn to the sophisticated cartoon art and how it managed to capture the character of my friends of all ages, I downloaded the app and tried it out for myself. It’s free for iPhone and Android, with a premium ad-free option as well (more on that, and on the app’s privacy policy, below).

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There’s something about avatars I find irresistibly compelling, from the very first Yahoo Messenger avatar I ever used, to Bitmoji stickers and beyond, as if our cartoon selves have the power to capture a core essence while outstretching a more playful version of ourselves. At any rate, it took less than five minutes to download Voila AI Artist and make my first cartoon grid. I also learned a few things along the way. Here’s how to do it and what to know.My cousin and her family, shared with permission.
Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
How to make your cartoon avatar using Voila AI ArtistStep 1: Download Voila AI Artist for iPhone or Android, and launch the app. It will ask for permission to use your phone’s camera roll.Step 2: Select from among the four styles: 3D Cartoon (what I used here), Renaissance, 2D Cartoon and Caricature. Tap the arrow to begin.Step 3: Your camera roll is now open. Select the photo you want to use, or tap Camera or Celebrities at the bottom of the screen to take a new picture or to search for celebrities. This generates a grid of four options. On the free version, expect to see an ad or two interrupt your view. After a few beats, you can X out the ad and return to your images.Step 4: You’ll see four options — the composite grid of your original photo plus your three cartoon renderings, and all three renderings (Royalty 3D, Baby 3D and Cartoon 3D). You can either take a screenshot from here and crop it down, or select any of the four options and click the edit button — an up arrow on Android — to immediately share on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, or to email, save or share through other options (when you press More).To remove the watermark, speed up the rendering process and remove the ads you see each time you render, you could update to the Voila Pro version for $2 per week, $4 per month or $21 a year — the price at the time of writing. There’s a free, three-day trial with that option.What doesn’t work well with Voila AI ArtistNonhumans, such as dogs or catsImages where the app says faces can’t be detectedImages of cut-off heads often work, but with an odd halo the app fills inA note on Viola AI Artist privacyFrom what we can tell, although the app’s parent company says it will delete your photos 24-48 hours after the photo was last used by the app, it does collect personally identifying information about you, your phone and your activity online. It then shares that personal data with third-party partners and advertisers in countries outside your own, including advertisers that may track your activity across the web. The app also discloses your personal information to any of its sibling companies, affiliates or subcontractors. According to the privacy policy from app owner WeImagine.AI:”When you use the free version of the App, we work with advertising partners to display advertisements within the App. These advertisements are delivered by our advertising partners and may be targeted based on your use of the App or your activity elsewhere online.”CNET has reached out to WeImagine.Ai for comment and clarification.CNET privacy writer Rae Hodge contributed to this story.

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Google Pixel 3 XL is now $200, but only if you’re cool with its worst color – CNET

Sarah Tew/CNET Google has a history of quirky names for the colors of its gadgets, but the name Not Pink doesn’t really do justice to the pale white flesh tone of the Pixel 3 XL. While you can drop the phone into a case and forget about the color underneath, this color option never sold…

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Google Pixel 3 XL is now $200, but only if you’re cool with its worst color     – CNET

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Google has a history of quirky names for the colors of its gadgets, but the name Not Pink doesn’t really do justice to the pale white flesh tone of the Pixel 3 XL. While you can drop the phone into a case and forget about the color underneath, this color option never sold very well for Google. As a result, you can now get the Pixel 3 XL in Not Pink for half off the price it’s normally sold for right now at B&H Photo while the company attempts to purge its inventory in preparation for the Pixel 6. If you’re looking for a backup phone in case something goes wrong with your daily driver, or you’d like a dedicated screen for a DIY car or bike system, $200 is a great price for what you’re getting here. And if all you want is an inexpensive phone you don’t have to think about, this deal is $150 less than you’d pay for a Pixel 4A directly from Google. But in buying this phone, you’re taking an immediate risk. Google will stop delivering monthly software updates to the Pixel 3 in October, which is not that far away. You’ll be able to update to Android 12 this fall, but after that you’re on your own.What you will get with this phone is 128GB of storage and unlimited photo backups to Google Photos, something the company recently removed from all other phones with access to this app. If that’s all you need for $200, you’ve got until 9 p.m. PT (midnight ET) to take advantage of this deal. 

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Amazon’s Alexa can now sense the presence of people. Here’s how to use the uncanny new trick – CNET

The new second-gen Amazon Echo Show has a person detection feature that can control other smart home gadgets like lights and outlets. Chris Monroe/CNET New Amazon Echo Show smart displays have started shipping nationwide with a host of new features and tricks — one of which I’ve been eagerly anticipating: person detection. Although Alexa can’t…

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Amazon’s Alexa can now sense the presence of people. Here’s how to use the uncanny new trick     – CNET

The new second-gen Amazon Echo Show has a person detection feature that can control other smart home gadgets like lights and outlets.
Chris Monroe/CNET
New Amazon Echo Show smart displays have started shipping nationwide with a host of new features and tricks — one of which I’ve been eagerly anticipating: person detection. Although Alexa can’t distinguish between individual people the way Google’s Face Match or Apple’s FaceID do, the new Echo Show 8, Echo Show 5 and Echo Show Kids can at least figure out whether or not someone — anyone — is in the room with them. Although that’s a pretty nifty feat in its own right, what piqued my interest most was what Alexa can now do with that information.

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Namely, you can now use person detection to fire off a set of commands as part of an Alexa routine. Think about lights that turn on and off depending on whether anyone is in the room. An air conditioner or space heater that kicks on or off, depending on occupancy. Your front door could lock if no one’s in the foyer, your bedtime routine could start when you open your bedroom door, your garage door could close, your kitchen could fill with song — all based on whether or not anyone’s there.Of course, there’s usually a bit of a gap between the way a new feature is hawked versus how it works in the real world, and Alexa’s person detection is no exception. Don’t get me wrong — it’s a fantastic new trick, but it comes with some limitations, which I’ll explain in a bit, after I show you how to set it up.
First, however, there are a couple of things you need to know about: a hidden setting you can’t change (but still need to account for), plus one other slight (but significant) limitation to consider.It’s important to note that Alexa on your Echo Show must go 7 whole minutes without detecting a person before the person detection trigger will fire again.
Chris Monroe/CNET
Alexa’s person detection has a cool-down periodWhen I first started testing Alexa’s new person detection feature, I was convinced it didn’t work. I had set up a brand-new Echo Show 8 on my desk and aimed it at myself while I worked. Beside it, I positioned a desk lamp, which I then plugged into a smart outlet. I created a simple routine that told Alexa to turn on that smart outlet whenever the Echo Show 8 detected a person, and yet — no matter how much typing, suspicious leering or frantic thrashing of limbs I did — that daggone light never came on.I was almost ready to write off the new feature as DOA when an Amazon rep informed me that Alexa abides by a 7-minute cool-down period in between person detection events. To test this, I moved the Echo Show 8 into another room, turned off the smart plug and set a 7-minute timer. When the alarm went off, I moseyed into the other room. Lo and behold, my presence triggered the routine, the desk light lit up — and my dilemma was solved.The takeaway here is this — if you set up a routine with the new person detection trigger, then — for whatever reason — turn off the devices used in that routine (either manually or with an app), Alexa won’t turn them back on again until you’ve disappeared for at least seven minutes.A bona fide motion sensor, like this one from Philips Hue, uses ultrasonic sound to detect movement, allowing it to still function in the dark.
Tyler Lizenby/CNET
Alexa isn’t actually a motion detectorMost motion sensors work using ultrasonic sound waves, meaning they don’t depend on lighting conditions to detect movement. Alexa, however, uses a camera and a computer processor to figure out whether someone’s in the room or not, and that means the Echo Show has to see you before Alexa knows you’re there. In my testing, Alexa almost never noticed when I entered a room unless it was bright enough to at least read a print magazine. For me, that made person detection triggers essentially useless for turning on nightlights, which is a huge drawback. If that’s your goal, you may need to consider dedicated motion sensors.With all that out of the way, here’s how to set up person detection and how to use it with Alexa routines:As long as there’s at least a moderate amount of light in the room, the new Echo Show 8 can detect a person.
Dale Smith/CNET
To enable Alexa’s person detection, check this setting firstI recently discovered a new Alexa setting called Home Monitoring that turns your Echo Show’s webcam into a security camera (or something quite like it). Basically, Home Monitoring lets you check your Alexa camera feed in real time without also sharing a selfie video like during a video call. Whether you want to use a feature like that or not, Home Monitoring also needs to be turned on before person detection will work. You can get the full rundown on Home Monitoring here, but here’s what you need to do to enable person detection:1. Starting on the Echo Show device itself, swipe down from the top of the screen and tap Settings, then scroll down and tap Camera.2. Make sure the toggle for Home Monitoring is switched on and, if not, tap to do so.Once you’ve turned on Home Monitoring, in addition to appearing in the places you’d expect, like under Echo & Alexa, your Alexa device will now appear in the Devices submenu of the Alexa app under Cameras (that’s also where you’ll find the live video feed, FYI).Start with a super-simple Alexa routine like thisHere’s a very basic Alexa routine in which person detection triggers a light to come on.
Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET
Before attempting to craft any long, complicated automations based on person detection, I wanted to get a sense of how the feature worked using a dead-simple routine. To that end, I plugged a small desk lamp into a smart plug and set it to turn on whenever the Echo Show 8 detected a person. Here’s how to do it exactly as I did:1. Open the Alexa app and tap the More menu in the lower right corner, then tap Routines.2. Tap the + (plus) sign in the upper right corner, then tap Enter routine name (I called mine “Show 8 Motion On”) and tap Next when you’re finished.3. Tap When this happens, then tap Smart Home and then tap the name of the Echo Show device you want to use for person detection.4. The next screen will present two options: People are detected and People aren’t detected. For this routine, choose the first one, then tap Next. (We’ll use the People aren’t detected option in the next example. 5. Tap Add action then scroll all the way down and tap Smart Home. Tap All devices and scroll until you find the device you want to control with this routine (mine was “Desk Lamp”) and tap it.6. The next screen sets what that device does when this routine runs — in this case, the box next to Power should be checked and the toggle should be turned on, then tap Next.7. Your routine should look something like the adjacent screenshot. Tap Save. The Alexa app will now double check that you’ve followed all of the steps in the previous section to turn on Home Monitoring — tap Next and Done.Once you’ve mastered those steps, building a more complex routine with even more commands is literally just a matter of repeating steps 5 and 6 as many times as necessary. What this doesn’t, however, do is turn the light (or whatever device you turned on) back off again. For that, you’ll need another routine (that’s just as easy as this one, quite frankly).What turns on must turn off: An Alexa routine in reverseHere’s the opposite of the previous routine — this one turns the light off when people are no longer detected.
Screenshot by Dale Smith/CNET
Setting up a routine to turn off a device when people aren’t detected is almost identical to the previous example turning one on. Rather than copypasta all the previous steps, I’ll save us both the trouble and just point out the three steps that are slightly different: Step 2: To keep things nice and tidy I named this routine “Show 8 Motion Off.”Step 4: Instead of People are detected, you’ll want to choose People aren’t detected.Step 6: Leave the Power check box checked, but tap the toggle to turn it to Off.If this isn’t your first Alexa Routines rodeo, you might be curious why I didn’t combine these two routines into one. After all, Alexa has a Wait function, right? While it may very well be possible to create one long routine to handle both on and off functions, considering the trip-up I had with the unpublished 7-minute cool-down period and the discovery that Alexa is effectively blind in the dark, I kept them separate for simplicity’s sake. Plus, it’s not uncommon to discover that a routine has unintended consequences, and it’s a lot easier to isolate and correct for them when you keep things separate like this. In other words, I’m still testing this feature and will continue to do so for a while. I’ll come back and update this story when I really cinch using person detection as a routine trigger and have something new to share.

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