In what can only be described as a surprise move, Amazon today announced a new product called the Amazon Echo – a voice-controlled speaker that works in a similar way to personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now.
Designed to be always on, you activate Echo by saying its wake word “Alexa”. Like Siri, Cortana and Google Now, you can ask it for information such as news and weather, find the answers to questions, set alarms and to-do lists, and play music. With regards to music playback, the device can either act as a hands-free controller for Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn, or you can stream the likes of iTunes and Spotify to it via your smartphone or tablet.
Constantly connected to the cloud via Wi-Fi, Amazon says Echo will not only get smarter over time, it will also improve as it adapts to your personal speech patterns, vocabulary, and preferences. Echo has a total of seven microphones which enable it to hear you wherever you are in the room, and thanks to enhanced noise cancellation, you can even ask it questions while it’s playing music.
Although it may look like a portable speaker, Echo plugs into a wall outlet – you can’t carry it around with you. For those times when you are away from home, Amazon has created a companion app for Fire OS and Android, plus browser based interfaces for computers and iOS devices which allow you to manage alarms, music, shopping lists and more.
Initially, Amazon is offering the Echo by “invitation only” for the price of $199 – but for a limited time, Prime members will only need to pay $99.
Will you be requesting an invite to purchase the Amazon Echo? Let us know what you think about it by leaving a comment below, via social, or on the forums.