Friday tech news roundup for October 4

A voice actress named Susan Bennett is the voice of Siri!
Hot news today! While we told you HOW Siri got her voice, we didn’t know who provided the voice…until now. Voice actress Susan Bennett came forward today in a story by CNN. It’s fun to watch the video and see her speak. When you’re done, check out her resume that’s online—and specifically look at the “Narrations” and “On-hold and in-store messaging” sections (Home Depot!! I KNEW her voice was familiar).

Scribd wants to be the Netflix for books
For a single monthly fee of $8.99/mo., Scribd offers you the chance to read as many books as you’d like—including titles from HarperCollins publishing house, a deal they just announced this week. There are other services around with a similar Netflix-like model, but Scribd is going the extra mile and offering reading material on every platform possible (even Amazon Kindle tablets!)—and even synchronizing how many pages you’ve read as you move across devices. I’m a fan of my Kindle, but this sounds pretty awesome. I wonder if they’ll offer gift subscriptions for Christmas? (hint, hint).

Fitbit-force-2013-10-02-verge-1020_large_verge_medium_landscapeFitbit’s new offering
Rumor has it that Fitbit will soon be unveiling a new fitness tracking band called the Force (insert StarWars refences here). From the photos, it looks a lot like the Flex, only it has an actual screen rather than 5 small lights. The Verge is betting the button on the side will allow users to scroll through settings and functions (and even work as a watch!). “Unverified sources” are saying it’ll sell for $129.95, so just a little more than the $100 Flex. With the holidays fast approaching, the best guess is that it will be released before long. I’ll go out on a very short limb and say that I expect wearable health tech to be hot items for holiday gifting.

Reviews of the Kindle Fire HDX and Galaxy Note 2014
If a tablet is on your holiday shopping list, you might want to check out these reviews of the Kindle Fire HDX and Galaxy Note 2014:

Kindle Fire HDX: The Verge’s reviewer calls it, “…still mostly a 7-inch combination of television and ebook reader. A remarkable one, at that, with a swath of content that continues to amaze me.” But, the reviewer didn’t like that it only connects to the not-well-stocked Amazon Appstore which he found very limiting. Similarly, TechCrunch says the HDX is not a great general-purpose tablet but, “if your aim is to run the gamut of Android apps or experience the ecosystem completeness of iOS, then the Kindle Fire isn’t for you.” They feel it’s best for people who want a tablet as an ereader first, who will then enjoy the other available features.

Galaxy Note 2014
: If you’re looking at a Galaxy Note 2014, Engadget took that tablet for an extensive test drive. The summary? They believe the updated hardware answered some frustrations with the previous version with its thinner and lighter body, better sound, and overall cleaner design. However, they weren’t fans of the performance of the tablet, feeling like it was “slugglish”—especially for a premium device. They believe that casual users might be just as satisfied (or more so) with the Nexus 10 which is cheaper.

Creepy four-legged sprinting robot will make you fear for your life
This sucker is disturbing. Developed by Boston Dynamics It’s called WildCat and it can gallop at up to 16mph. No word on what the power source is for this amazing robot, but one website said that at least “the massive whining motor will be a dead giveaway when WildCat comes bounding over the rise, gleeful for the blood of humans” –ha!

This robot is less disturbing, even though I still think of Terminator
It’s a walking robot called Atlas, also developed by Boston Dynamics. Now, it can walk across uneven, rocky terrain and can balance brilliantly.

Coming soon tech:
1) A wristband called 13:56 (that looks like one of those rubber bracelets) that can control your smartphone. It won’t control all functions, but will work depending on the status of your smartphone. If you’re listening to music, it can turn up the volume without ever having to touch your phone (or turn off alarms, etc.). Could be kind of handy since we use a wireless speaker controlled by our phones. It’s on Kickstarter, if you want to get on the ground floor.

2) Google has patented a wireless photo frame that synchs with your phone. Apparently it’ll let you tag people in the photo and use the image in your contact list. And, since the frame synchs you’re your phone you could tap on photo to call that person. It sounds kind of cool, but since I like my digital photos to scroll, I’d have to wait a while for the right picture to scroll by if I wanted to call someone. Still to easily display the photos taken with my phone? Sign me up. Mashable has the story.

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.
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