The Week in Geek: A historic Echo-to-Echo call, a new direction for Windows, and tech’s ‘megalopolis’

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GeekWire editor Todd Bishop prepares to make the first Echo-to-Echo call on a podcast. (GeekWire Photo / John Cook)

Alexa, Amazon’s artificial intelligence assistant, is getting smarter by the day. Her most recent trick is pretty impressive: users can now make calls between Alexa-enabled devices with a simple voice command: “Alexa, call mom,” for example.

We try out the new feature on this week’s episode of the Week in Geek, with a call to longtime collaborator and multiple-Echo owner Frank Catalano — a historic first Echo-to-Echo call on a podcast, by our estimate. We had mixed results: while calls are easy to make, the setup can be tricky and the audio quality isn’t always great, as you’ll hear. Be sure to refer to Amazon’s FAQ before trying this at home.

Amazon also unveiled a new Alexa-enabled device this week, the Echo Show.

Plus, Microsoft’s Build conference was this week which means an avalanche of news from the tech giant. The biggest takeaway? Microsoft is going in a brand new direction with Windows, its best-known product. We go over some of the biggest news in this episode, but be sure to check out our Microsoft Build-focused podcast special, coming soon, to get into all the nitty-gritty details.

Another big event kicking off this week: The Paul-Allen-backed Upstream Music Festival, which showcases Pacific Northwest musicians and how the music industry is coping with new technologies. We get the inside view from GeekWire reporter Kurt Schlosser, who covered the festival’s opening day.

We also talk about the West Coast Megalopolis, a term used by GeekWire co-founder John Cook as he described the new connections forming between Seattle and it’s tech sister, Silicon Valley. The Economist explored the topic this week in a piece entitled, Silicon Valley North: How America’s Two Tech Hubs are Converging.

On the Random Channel this week: A surprise visitor in Amazon’s greenhouse spheres and why Twitch is streaming a Mister Rogers marathon.

Listen to the podcast above or download it as an MP3, and be sure to subscribe to the GeekWire podcast wherever you listen to shows. 

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