…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

Digital Trends writes about how “Amazon has made dozens of updates and improvements to its Echo system to not only make it more functional, but also to make Alexa sound more human. The result so far has been to change her originally somewhat drab voice into a much more pleasant, natural-sounding one. Now even more improvements have been made on that front.”

This latest improvement, the story says, “is still in its early stages but is expected to go live in the coming months. The new algorithm has made the Alexa 20% more accurate in answering questions, according to Amazon. This means that users can have a more natural, more fluid chat with Alexa that doesn’t have that stilted, artificial quality.”

GeekWire reports that Amazon is closing down its Amazon Restaurants food delivery business in the US, six months after it closed the same business in the UK.

According to the story, “Amazon Restaurants first launched in Seattle back in 2015. Amazon expanded the program across more than 20 U.S. cities and later in London. The service gave Prime members a way to get meals delivered to their door, using the Amazon Restaurants website or through the Prime Now shopping app.”

However, as the story notes, “the competition is fierce in the food delivery market, with companies such as Uber and Grubhub seeing big growth in recent years.” It was a market that Amazon was never able to really crack, though it does deliver food from its Whole Foods division.

Fast Company reports that Amazon “has a new store credit card targeted at people with less-than-perfect credit scores. In partnership with Synchrony Bank, the ‘Amazon Prime Store Card Credit Builder’ lets people put down a refundable security deposit (yes, like an apartment), which will be used to set the card’s total credit limit. Synchrony will then collect that deposit from you and give you a line of credit.

From there, people can spend money on amazon.com using their new credit from money they footed. Depending on how much money they spend on the card, users get 6, 12, or 24 months of no interest.”

There’s a catch though - “The card’s APR is 28.24% … According to WalletHub, the average interest rate for people with fair credit is 22.99%, and the average store credit card interest rate is 25.76%.”

Yikes. Sounds like Amazon is focused squarely on creating a situation like that described in the old song - they’ll owe their souls to the company store. I like the idea of helping people with bad credit to improve those scores, but those usurious rates seem a little extreme and probably not helpful long-term.