Our very own Arielle Hixson tried her hand at Quidditch — watch to find out how she did!

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is giving its voice-enabled Echo speaker a touch screen and video-calling capabilities as it competes with Google’s efforts at bringing “smarts” to the home.

The 7-inch screen on the new Echo Show enables the speaker to supplement voice responses with visuals and other information displays , similar to the Echo-like features on the Fire tablets and Fire TV streaming devices.

That could mean extended weather forecasts, not just current conditions, or music lyrics to go with the song you’re listening to. You can also call up cooking tutorials on YouTube, hands-free, while making dinner in the kitchen.

You’ll also be able to make video calls with other Echo Show devices or the Alexa app for iPhones and Android phones. Two previous models, the original Echo and the smaller Echo Dot, will get audio calling only, as they lack screens and cameras. Video and audio calls will be free.

The new Echo Show goes on sale on June 28 for $230, making it the priciest Echo yet.

The market for voice-assisted speakers is small, but growing. The research firm eMarketer expects usage of such speakers to more than double this year, with nearly 36 million Americans using such a device at least once a month by year’s end.

Amazon’s Echo is expected to continue its dominance, with a share of nearly 71 percent, though eMarketer expects Google’s Home speaker to cut into that share over time.

A few weeks ago, Google Home got the ability to recognize individuals within a family by voice , allowing for more precise recommendations and ad targeting. So far, Amazon doesn’t have a comparable voice-recognition feature.

On the other hand, Google Home doesn’t have a screen or video calling.

All Echo devices can respond to voice requests for weather, news, music and other tasks. The original device, simply called Echo, is currently on sale for $150. The speaker on the $50 Echo Dot isn’t as good, as it’s meant to be used with speakers you may already own. The $130 Amazon Tap is a battery-powered version.

Two weeks ago, Amazon unveiled the Echo Look, a device focused on offering fashion advice. It’s available by invitation only for $200. Neither the Look nor the Tap will handle calls.

Amazon and Google will get a new rival this fall: On Monday, Microsoft and Samsung’s Harman business teased an upcoming speaker, called Invoke, powered by Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant.


This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that calling features won’t work on tablets.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia mistakenly posted online a video of President Donald Trump that came from the account of a private Saudi citizen and had been edited to delete references to his upcoming visit to Israel, a State Department official said Monday.

The edited video was quickly removed after Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a sharply worded letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Engel told Tillerson the doctored video implied that the United States accepted Saudi Arabia’s refusal to recognize Israel as a state.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal diplomatic relations.

The American Embassy was unaware that the video had been altered, according to the State Department official. The video was immediately replaced on the embassy’s social media accounts with the original version that includes Trump stating Israel will be among the countries he’ll be visiting.

The official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity, said the embassy regretted the mistake.

In his letter to Tillerson, Engel said the video ran counter to U.S. efforts to support Israel and peace in the Middle East.

“At a time when the United States should be encouraging the governments of the region — and their people — to promote tolerance, respect and mutual recognition this video implies that the U.S. accepts Saudi Arabia’s public rejectionist position toward Israel,” Engel wrote.

Trump announced last week during remarks in the Rose Garden that his first foreign trip as president will feature stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican. Trump will meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and other leaders to discuss efforts to defeat terrorism.

In Israel, Trump will seek to reinforce the U.S. alliance with Israel. He met with Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Washington at the start of his presidency.


Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.


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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Attention Halo Nation, “Halo: Combat Evolved” is in the World Video Game Hall of Fame.

The science fiction shooter game that enthralled a legion of fans after its 2001 launch with the Xbox system is one of four games to be inducted into the hall Thursday. “Donkey Kong,” ”Pokemon Red and Green” and “Street Fighter II” round out the young hall’s third class of honorees.

All will be on permanent display at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York, where the hall of fame was established in 2015 to recognize an industry that the Entertainment Software Association said generated $30.4 billion in revenue in the U.S. last year.

“Until ‘Halo’s’ launch, the most successful shooters required a personal computer and the precision offered by a high-quality mouse,” said Strong Associate Curator Shannon Symonds. “‘Halo’ proved a console could be just as effective, if not better, than a PC.”

More than half of the Microsoft Xbox consoles initially sold included the launch game and players gave it high marks for its intricate storyline, characters like Master Chief and multi-player capability. The self-described “Halo Nation” of fans that emerged bought up 6 million copies, along with sequels, spinoffs, books and action figures.

An international committee of video game scholars and journalists chose the World Video Game Hall of Fame’s class of 2017 from among 12 finalists that also included: “Final Fantasy VII,” ”Microsoft Windows Solitaire,” ”Mortal Kombat,” ”Myst,” ”Portal,” ”Resident Evil,” ”Tomb Raider” and “Wii Sports.”

Inductees were chosen based on their longevity and impact on the video game industry and pop culture. Nominations of arcade, computer, console, hand-held and mobile games came in from more than 100 countries, The Strong said.

Twenty years before “Halo,” fellow inductee “Donkey Kong” was a star of arcades and at the time of its 1981 release, Nintendo’s most profitable game to date. Even more notable than its sale of an estimated 132,000 arcade cabinets is the game’s launch of the plumber character Mario, who led the spinoff “Super Mario Bros.” into the hall of fame’s inaugural class.

Another Nintendo entry, “Pokemon Red and Green,” was released on the Game Boy in 1996 as “Pocket Monsters.” With the catchphrase “Gotta catch ’em all!” players were challenged to collect 151 unique monsters, which soon migrated to 21.5 billion trading cards, 800 television episodes and 17 movies.

“‘Pokemon Red and Green’ launched a franchise that has taken the world by storm, vaulting many of its characters, such as Pikachu, into popular, mainstream culture,” Symonds said.

Capcom’s “Street Fighter II” is credited with helping to spark an arcade renaissance in the 1990s, The Strong said.

The game “allowed for head-to-head battles between human opponents, instantly attracting spectators and generating fierce tournament play in arcades across the world,” said Jeremy Saucier, assistant director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games.

Nominations for the World Video Game Hall of Fame’s class of 2018 are open.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says an investigation into secretly recorded videos of a Democratic activist appearing to brag about sending troublemakers to Donald Trump rallies remains open, after initially saying it was closed.

Conservative activist James O’Keefe released footage in October of a Wisconsin-based liberal operative appearing to say he arranged for people to incite violence at Trump rallies.

Schimel’s Justice Department released a memo this week concluding the videos don’t show evidence of wrongdoing. O’Keefe accused Schimel’s office of not seriously investigating.

Schimel told Wisconsin Radio Network on Thursday the videos offered no leads and the memo was released because the probe was closed. Hours later, he told WTMJ the investigation “remains ongoing.”

A Schimel spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email asking why Schimel reversed himself.

Watch funny bloopers and outtakes from Keith and Ronnie’s trip to Australia.

If you loved our Great Barrier Reef series and your class or your school is interested in learning more about coral reef ecology, parasites and the effects of climate change, Paul Sikkel, the marine researcher we interviewed for our series, is available to host Q and A sessions with students. For details, you can contact him at paul.sikkel@gmail.com.