TECHNOLOGY

Amazon’s Alexa gets comfortable with another ‘smart device’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s digital assistant is making a smart TV even more intelligent.

Though its partnership with Vizio, Amazon is integrating its digital assistant Alexa into the manufacturer’s SmartCast TVs. The Alexa skill enables users to use their voice to control 2017 and 2016 SmartCast P-, M- and E-Series 4K display collections.

Alexa enables users to voice-control volume, channel and input settings, as well as turn the display on and off. The Alexa skill will also be available to 2018 Vizio SmartCast Full HD and HD display customers in the coming weeks, according to Vizio.

Alexa allows users with Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Echo Show and other Alexa-enabled devices to pair Alexa to the TVs — the catalyst that enables them to voice-control their Vizio SmartCast displays.

The smart TVs already have similar capabilities through an integration with Google Home, according to The Verge.

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Convenience store retailer upgrades app experience

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

New enhancements to Cumberland Farms’ mobile app is earning users free merchandise, including in-store menu items.

The convenience store chain, a fixture in New England and central Florida, redesigned its SmartPay Check-Link mobile app. The new app features a more intuitive, user-friendly interface, as well as more user benefits.

The app features a secure biometric touch ID sign-in process, as well as an enhanced store finder, and the ability to sign up for SmartPay — Cumberland Farms’ mobile payment capability that saves users 10¢ on every gallon of gas when they pay through the app. New upgrades also enable users to track lifetime savings on select in-store food items and gas rewards, view in-store deals and promotions, monitor their fuel rewards progress, and find directions and hours for the nearest store.

In addition to earning savings on gas, app users also earn free coffee or fountain beverages for every 50 gallons of gas purchased. They also earn a free select in-store menu item, such as pizza and breakfast sandwiches, for every 10 items they buy through the app, according to Cumberland Farms.

“We have a very large and loyal SmartPay mobile app customer base, and we’re excited for them to upgrade to the newest version,” said Gwen Forman, senior VP of marketing at Cumberland Farms.

“When we launched the SmartPay program five years ago it was one of the most innovative programs of its kind, and remains as such today,” he added. “The beauty of SmartPay Check-Link is its simplicity, and our new design further enhances that simplicity with an … intuitive design.”

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Target partners with start-up for new type of wedding registry experience

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. is teaming up with a company that landed a deal on “Shark Tank” to offer an updated take on the wedding registry.

Target is partnering with honeymoon registry startup Honeyfund to allow soon-to-be married shoppers the chance to register for honeymoon experiences, flights, dinners and more as they sign up for mixers, dishes, and other traditional household items — all on the Target site.

“Wedding registry expectations have changed over time,” said Dawn Block, Target senior VP of digital. “Guests are looking for a complete registry experience, including product and honeymoon options, and Target is the first retailer to be able to offer all of this in one place on Target.com.”

Target has updated its registry (wedding and baby) in other ways also. It has added visual search technology to the registry app in partnership with Pinterest whereby the guest takes a picture of an item she likes and the retailer’s app will instantly recommend Target products resembling the photo to add to any registry, from wedding to baby.

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