Amazon Echo is a Star Trek computer for your homeStand aside, Siri. Amazon's Echo smart speaker, with its Alexa voice assistant, has plenty to say. Also, Microsoft makes Office free to use on mobile, and most messaging apps score poorly on security.
Amazon has created the Star Trek computer for your home. I'm Bridget Carey and this is your CNet update. [MUSIC] Step aside, Siri. And don't cry, Cortana. There's a new female computer voice you can talk to now. And her name is Alexa. Well, the device itself is actually called Amazon Echo. Amazon created a speaker you can put anywhere in your home. It's connected to the internet and responds to your family's voice commands. But before any question or command, you have to first say, Alexa. The concept is just like what you can do with Android by saying, ok, Google, before a command. But the Amazon Echo does much more than a phone. You could ask her for the news. And she'll play the latest. From NPR. ESPN. Or your local radio station. You can set alarms timers. Even ask her to add items to your shopping list. Alexa add wrapping paper to the shopping list. I put wrapping paper on your shopping list. Alexa, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon? One tablespoon equals three teaspoons. Oh, okay. And of course, it's a giant speaker so you can play music. The speakers send out audio from all directions, and you can stream from several music services. At the top, near the light ring, you'll find seven microphones, with technology that can hear you from any direction, and while music is playing. It seems like a fascinating smart home device, but we haven't tested it out for ourselves yet. Right now, Amazon's limiting purchases to those who ask for an invitation on the website amazon.com/echo. It'll cost $200, but Prime members. Can get it for $100. In other news, there are big changes for Microsoft Office mobile apps. You can now create and edit Office documents for free. Previously, Office apps required you to pay for a subscription to create documents. And now Microsoft has opened up access and refreshed the design. Word, PowerPoint and Excel each are standalone apps on the iPhone. There's also an Office App for Android Tablets, but that's not out yet. You an sign up to test a preview. With the free versions you can do some basic things. Like edit fonts and save to One Drive. But more advanced formatting requires that Office 365 subscription. And that starts at $7 a month. Messaging apps are also in the news. But for not being secure. [UNKNOWN] Electronic [UNKNOWN] Foundation found that many apps we use for messaging. Are not providing full encryption to protect our conversations. From being spied on. And that includes WhatsApp, Facebook Chat, AIM, Viber, Skype, SnapChat, Yahoo Messenger, and even Google Chat when you're off the record. That's your Tech News update, and you can go to cnet.com to find out which apps scored best on security. Such as Crisco Catch. From our studios in New York, I'm Bridget Carey. [MUSIC]