Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook, the way you keep in touch with your mom and keep tabs on that ex or the thing you quit like five years ago, is reportedly working on a voice-activated digital assistant to rival competitors like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and the Google Assistant.

This comes by means of CNBC, which was reportedly informed by “people familiar with the matter.” Facebook, like Apple, Google, and Amazon, is famously secretive, so take the news with a grain of salt.

Reports say that the social media giant has been working on the new initiative since 2018, and that the effort is emerging from the company’s relatively newly acquired augmented reality and virtual reality group — this is the AR and VR division that develops and promotes, among other futuristic stuff, the Oculus VR headset.

According to two former Facebook employees who have since left the company, the initiative is spearheaded by a team based out of Redmond, Washington, led by Ira Snyder, the director of AR/VR and Facebook Assistant. They’re also reportedly talking to a bunch of vendors in the smart speaker market, which could present a huge challenge given how far ahead A.I.-ish gizmos like Amazon’s Alexa have gotten, not to mention the giant investment that Google has made in language technology.

Still, Facebook has a whole bunch of platforms where it could employ the new digital buddy, including the fancy new Facebook Portal video chat speaker as well as the Oculus headsets that are rumored to be mainstream soon, plus whatever other idea Zuckerberg’s army has cooked up.

If the report is true, Facebook will be playing catch-up: Amazon has already captured nearly 70 percent of the smart speaker market, with Google carrying the other 30 percent. Siri lives on the iPhone, but Apple’s HomePod hasn’t really taken off.

Facebook has been interested in conversational A.I.-driven products for some time, though not with quite the paroxysm and money that Google has invested. Facebook’s most current public venture has been M, a suggestion-oriented wingding that can hail an Uber, translate conversations, and connect you with apps like Spotify or Food Network if you reference a song or recipe. Facebook has been quietly acquiring companies in this market for a while including the AI assistant startup Ozlo in 2017.

Facebook is scheduled to hold its annual F8 developer conference at the end of April, so we’ll keep you posted if we hear of anything else.

Emerging Tech

What would it take to build a Matrix-level simulation of reality?

What would it take, technologically speaking, to build a real version of the Matrix? We definitely don't have the technical abilities to do that now, but we're rapidly approaching the point that we will. In this article, MIT computer…
Home Theater

LG’s 2019 TVs slide Alexa next to Google Assistant, with Siri on the way

LG announced that Alexa will be coming to its 2019 lineup of ThinQ A.I. TVs, joining Google Assistant. Users will be able to control their TVs and smart home devices with their remote, no extra speaker required.
Product Review

Oculus Quest is the affordable VR rig we’ve been waiting for

Oculus announced that its Project Santa Cruz virtual reality headset will ship next year as the Oculus Quest, and we got to try out several new game titles on the Quest. Find out our impressions of VR without wires.
Smart Home

The best smart home devices that work with Amazon Alexa

Ever since Amazon added the Dot, Tap, and Show to its Echo lineup, Alexa-enabled devices have exploded. Here's a guide to everything Alexa can control in your smart home, from lights to locks to appliances.
Smart Home

Amazon chops the price for customer favorite Hamilton Beach 2-way coffee brewer

Do you sometimes want just a single cup of coffee without making a whole pot but other times use a full carafe? Have it both ways with the Amazon's Choice Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer. For today only, Amazon cut the price by $53.

Best Memorial Day smart mattress sales from Sleep Number, Beautyrest, and more

Memorial Day is one of the best holidays when it comes to online sales. If you're looking for a new mattress, a smart mattress may be right for you. Check out some of the best Memorial Day smart mattress sales of the year to take your smart…
Smart Home

Amazon Memorial Day sale: $210 off Arlo Pro wireless security camera kit

Weatherproof and wireless, the Arlo Pro security camera gives you the freedom to monitor any area or room inside or outside your home. Amazon dropped the price of the Arlo Pro HD security camera kit that includes everything you need.
Smart Home

Amazon Memorial Day deal drops price of August Smart Lock for homes to just $99

Smart lock are a strong start to any smart home security system. Now, in Amazon’s Memorial Day deal, score an August Smart Lock for the low price of just $99, down from $150. Lock in this deal now and start your summer off smart.
Smart Home

Before you sell your Google Home Mini, here's how to factory reset it

If you’re thinking about swapping out Google's entry-level smart speaker, you can get a few bucks in cash or trade-in value out of your device. You’ll need to wipe your device first though. Here's how to factory reset a Google Home…

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Smart Home

Walmart offers sweet deals on Owlet Smart Sock 2 baby monitor

Parenting is an amazing experience, but wondering how newborns and infants are at night can be nerve-wracking. Baby monitors can ease some of the stress by letting you check on the baby without entering the room.

Amazon slashes prices on Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats for Memorial Day

If you’re tired of constantly adjusting your thermostat and you want a smarter (not to mention more eco-friendly) way to keep cool this spring and summer, then these Nest and Ecobee smart thermostat deals are just what the doctor ordered.

Walmart Memorial Day sale: 4K TVs, laptops, and Apple iPads get price cuts

The Walmart Memorial Day sale has begun. With some pretty nice savings on Apple iPads, Samsung and Vizio 4K TVs, laptops, and Google Home devices, now is a great time to snag some electronics for cheap.
Smart Home

The best stand mixers of 2019, including models at every price range

Making dough is hard work, but the right stand mixer can make free up some time (and your hands). Here are our current favorites, from the likes of KitchenAid, Sunbeam, and several other manufacturers.