Google talks up WhatsApp-style rich interactive messages at MWC 2018


Think #SMS is dead? We may all be using #WhatsApp, #Facebook Messenger and #iMessage to send emojis, images, videos and even AR Emoji, but last year businesses sent 2.1 trillion text messages to customers. When banks, airlines and delivery services urgently need to get in touch with us, they send a text message. So why does Google want to kill-off SMS?

The reason businesses use SMS is that it’s ubiquitous. “By using SMS, businesses know they can reach four billion people, they consider it secure, and no-one has to worry about whether someone has downloaded a particular app or not,” explained Amir Sarhangi, head of RCS at #Google, to TechRadar at MWC 2018. “But it’s not branded, so no-one knows who a text message has come from, and there’s no way a company knows if its text message has been read or interacted with.”



Bixby 2.0 and the Note 9 could launch together later in the year


It looks like the second generation of Samsung’s voice assistant could be with us within the year.

Speaking at MWC 2018, Samsung’s mobile chief seemed to confirm that the plan was to launch Bixby 2.0 at the same time as the Note 9 in 2018.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that we’ve heard rumblings of a release of Bixby 2.0 so it’s worth taking this prediction with a generous pinch of salt, although it coming from Koh himself does make it a little more likely.

A big year for Bixby

Speaking to ZDNet, Koh said: “For Bixby 1.0, we focused on a fast rollout to the market. Expanding the ecosystem was difficult. So Bixby 2.0 will strengthen this aspect and we are working intensely.”

Of course, for those in the English speaking world, “fast rollout” isn’t exactly a phrase you’d associate with Bixby, with many months of delays plaguing the release.

Koh continued: “At this speed, I think we will be able to unveil Bixby 2.0 when we launch the Galaxy Note 9.”

Now, current predictions place the launch of the Note 9 in the middle of 2018, before Samsung’s Bixby smart speaker is supposed to be hitting the market.

In a market already dominated by Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, Bixby 2.0 will need to be a serious improvement to make it a real contender. Watch this space.

Android Pay is dead, long live Google Pay


After realising that it was more than slightly unnecessary for Android Pay and Google Wallet to be completely separate services, Google has started rolling out its new unified payment service, Google Pay.

The new app, rolling out now for Android devices, is largely similar to Android Pay in terms of function but it has a slightly different layout. It’s split into two sections: Home, which allows you to see all of your recent payments, any nearby stores and any rewards you can claim, and Cards, which is where you’ll store and find all of your credit and debit cards, loyalty cards, offers, and gift cards.

At the moment, the app doesn’t have Google Wallet’s function which allows you to send and receive money, but this is apparently coming to the UK and US in just a few months. In the meantime, Google has, for some reason, rebranded Google Wallet as Google Pay Send, which will allow you to continue to send and request payments.

A unified service

Overall, the Google Pay experience is still pretty similar to Android Pay at the moment; you can use your saved cards across a wide range of apps and websites via your Android device, and you’ll be able to use the service to pay for public transport if you’re living in a city that supports it.

This is clearly just the first step for Google Pay, though, and it seems that the company has big plans for the service.

In the near future, for example, Google Pay will be on all Google Products. So whether you’re using desktop Chrome or your Google Home, you’ll be able to use the cards that are saved to your Google Account. And we can, apparently, expect to see Google partner with a lot more online and in-store brands in the future.

Google Pay is rolling out now and you’ll be able to download it from the Google Play store soon.

Who ends up replacing Alexa? The complete Super Bowl ad is right here!

Last month, we showed you a teaser for Amazon’s Super Bowl ad. As you recall, Alexa had lost her voice and Amazon founder, CEO and richest man in the world Jeff Bezos, had agreed to a plan to replace her. But who ended up getting the gig? That is revealed in the complete version of the commercial, which you can view by clicking on the video at the top of this story. The first 15 seconds repeats the teaser, and from that point on, the content is brand new.

The first new scene takes place in the kitchen of a man who asks Alexa how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Since Alexa has lost her voice, one of the replacements starts talking. “Pathetic. You’re 32 years of age and you don’t know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.” The British accent. The insults. Yes, Gordon Ramsay is one of Amazon’s replacements for Alexa.

Other replacements include rapper Cardi B and Australian actress Rebel Wilson (“you’re in the bush and you’re just so dirty”). But the piece de resistance is the last Alexa replacement shown in the ad. We see a woman applying some makeup as she is getting ready for a night out. She asks Alexa (on her Amazon Echo Spot) to call her boyfriend Brandon. You might have goose bumps on your skin when you hear an eerie voice say, “I’m afraid Brandon is a little tied up.” It’s actor Anthony Hopkins, channeling his most famous role as psychotic killer Hannibal Lechter.

Luckily for the world, the replacements aren’t needed too long. As the commercial ends, we hear Carly Simon singing her classic James Bond song “Nobody Does It Better,” and we know that Alexa is coming back. Sure enough, just before the ad ends, Amazon’s virtual personal assistant says, “Thanks guys, but I’ll take it from here.”

It might not be the best Super Bowl ad (we won’t know until Sunday night), but we will give it points for being creative. And the ad also is a tip of the hat to the amazing growth that Alexa has experienced, coming out of nowhere to be everywhere as 2018 begins.

source: Amazon