AWS Puts Its Alexa Personal Assistant to Work in the Office

Today’s topics include Amazon Web Services’ release of Alexa for Business; 5G wireless efforts increasing; the debut of WordPress 4.9.1 with hardened security updates; and Microsoft launching its Edge browser for iOS and Android devices.

At the Amazon Web Services re:Invent 2017 conference that took place in Las Vegas last week, Amazon Web Services introduced a business version of its well-known Alexa virtual assistant, dubbing it Alexa for Business and adding work tools for professional duty.

Alexa for Business is integrated with Microsoft Exchange, RingCentral, Salesforce, SAP Concur and SuccessFactors. According to AWS Chief Technical Officer Werner Vogels, administrators will be able to manage Alexa-enabled devices and third-party skills that are available to end users.

AWS says this is all about saving time, especially in arranging meetings, conference calls and video chats. In the workplace, shared devices can be placed in common areas for anyone to use, and Alexa for Business can also be connected with Alexa’s home service or personal mobile devices.

The push toward 5G wireless connectivity is speeding up as carriers and businesses continue to struggle with the skyrocketing growth of data. 5G is expected to bring significant gains in speed and data capacity, much lower latency and the ability to support more connected devices.

Looking to take a lead role in 5G technology development is Intel, which sees 5G coming to market faster than initially expected. The chip maker is working with the likes of AT&T, Ericsson, Verizon, Cisco and Telia on 5G trials.

In September, Intel unveiled the latest generation of its 5G Mobile Trial Platform that will support the initial 5G new radio specifications in live tests. Sandra Rivera, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Network Platforms Group, told eWEEK: “We were thinking things were going to push more into 2019 or even 2020, but now we believe the specifications are really going to be done by 2018.”

Version 4.9.1 of the open-source WordPress blogging and content management system was released on Nov. 29, providing users with security and bug fix improvements.

WordPress is one of the most widely deployed CMS technologies on the internet today, powering approximately 25 percent of all websites.

Version 4.9.1 fixes four security issues found in earlier versions of WordPress that could potentially be exploited as part of a multi-vector attack. It is the first incremental update to WordPress 4.9, which became generally available on Nov. 16 and added a number of new features including enhancements to the site customizer that enable administrators to schedule when site design changes should go live.

The Microsoft Edge browser app for iOS and Android is now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play app marketplaces, Microsoft announced on Nov. 30.

"Microsoft Edge for iOS and Android brings familiar features like your Favorites, Reading List, New Tab Page, Reading View, and Roaming Passwords across your PC and phone, so, no matter the device, your browsing goes with you," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft Windows and Devices division. However, what makes Microsoft Edge really stand out, he said, “is the ability to continue on your PC, which enables you to immediately open the page you're looking at right on your PC—or save it to work on later."

The Roaming Passwords feature allows users to set passwords for frequently visited sites and online services on a smartphone to quickly revisit those sites on their Windows 10 PCs.