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Apple has built a suite of products to keep the iPhone at the center of consumer life (a la HomeKit), and Google has invested heavily in home-automation (think Nest thermostat).

But with its fast-growing Alexa voice-based digital assistant and Echo speaker system, Amazon is quickly dominating how people interact with all their devices in the home.

When the iPhone rolled out in 2007, everyone developed [software] for that. Right now, everyone is developing for the voice-activated Internet. —Mark Mahaney, RBC Capital Markets

Why the hype? So-called connected home is a near-term holy grail for major tech players want to own the way people communicate, shop, work and run their households. Amazon is hoping to facilitate all these interactions without an Apple phone or Google web browser as middle man, as Reuters pointed out this morning in a good breakdown of these companies' efforts.

So what? By cutting Google or Apple (at least partly) out of the equation, Amazon easily wins the "smart-home" race for a market expected to be worth $100 billion by 2020, according to Juniper Research. Developers working on software for products to "plug in" to the smart-home infrastructure, in turn, are making sure they're betting on the leading horse.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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