Friday Five: Amazon launches child-friendly speaker in UK

1. Amazon launches kid-friendly speaker in UK

Amazon is launching a child-friendly version of its Echo Dot smart speaker in the UK. The speaker — available with either a panda or tiger design — is billed as a learning tool, allowing children “to have fun and learn with Alexa”. It will have parental controls to allow parents to block things such as explicit lyrics and set time limits.

2. New ‘right to repair’ rules come into effect

Manufacturers must make home products such as dishwashers and washing machines easier to repair under new standards that came into effect yesterday. The new energy efficiency rules are designed to tackle ‘premature obsolescence’ — a short lifespan deliberately built into an appliance to make consumers buy new ones.

3. Facebook is training robots to do our chores

Away from its social networking services, one of Facebook’s side hustles is training AI robots to navigate home environments and perform all the chores we don’t want to do. In 2019 it released AI Habitat, an open-source simulation platform of photo-realistic 3D home environments. Now here’s the next version: Habitat 2.0.

4. Instagram ‘no longer a photo-sharing app’

It’s been a phrase we’ve heard a lot in the past few years, but Instagram is pivoting to video as its content of choice, in response to the explosive success of TikTok and YouTube’s influencer-driven video content. “We’re no longer a photo-sharing app or a square photo-sharing app,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri has announced.

5. Where we’re going, we don’t need roads…

Back to the Future Part II predicted we’d be zooming around the skies in flying cars by 2015. Well, it’s six years late but science fiction moved closer to reality this week when a prototype flying car completed a 35-minute flight between two Slovakian cities. AirCar is a hybrid that transforms from sports car to aircraft in three minutes.

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