Mar 3, 2017

Amazon's Alexa is learning how to speed dial

Kim Hart, author of Cities

MjZ Photography / Flickr CC

Recode reports today that Amazon is working on Alexa-powered devices that use the popular digital assistant to make phone calls and serve as an intercom system, citing people familiar with the company's plans.

Key context: As Recode points out, Amazon's Echo products have been among the most talked about consumer tech products in the past year, but neither Amazon nor rivals Apple or Google have cracked the code on how to make voice apps a daily habit. Making Alexa a better communicator could help Amazon be even more ingrained into consumers' everyday lives.

Why it matters: Amazon is on the quest to make Alexa and Echo the center of how consumers live, shop and work. The company has stiff competition from Google and Apple, who are also putting tremendous resources into owning the connected home via voice-activated digital assistants.

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Unemployment rate falls to 13.3% in May

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, with 2.5 million jobs gained, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The far better-than-expected numbers show a surprising improvement in the job market, which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The shocking May jobs report — with a decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3% and more than 2 million jobs added — destroyed expectations of a much worse economic picture.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.

1 hour ago - Sports

How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The NBA's Board of Governors approved Thursday the league's 22-team plan to resume play at Walt Disney World — a plan that also includes tentative dates for both this season and next.

Why it matters: The league's proposed trip to Disney World not only impacts this season but could have a domino effect that impacts seasons in the future — and could permanently change what time of year the NBA plays its games.