Amazon’s new device takes the personal assistant features of Siri, Google Now, and Cortana and bundles them into one big speaker that sits in your living room. Or wherever else you’d like to tell it what to do.
Called Echo, the voice-controlled device can tell you news and weather information; play your favorite music from Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio; and set to-do lists and alarms to remind you of important details later—plus it learns your speech and behavior to adapt to your vocabulary and preferences. The device is always on, so users need to say “Alexa” to control it. (It presumably draws on Amazon’s own Alexa Web Information Service.)
Echo has seven speakers around the top of the device and can hear commands from any direction. The device can supposedly hear your voice from across the room, even over music.
Like other connected home devices, Echo can be controlled on the go from a free companion app on Fire OS and Android, as well as desktop and iOS browsers.
The difference this time, is that Echo isn’t something its competitor companies have. Google, Microsoft and Apple might have built-in “assistants” on their mobile devices, but there’s currently no standalone connected home system controlled by voice. Though Microsoft is working with smarthome manufacturer Insteon to create Cortana-controlled systems, users still need a Microsoft smartphone to operate them.
Echo is available by invitation only, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member lucky enough to get an invite, you’ll also get a discount for a limited time. Amazon says Echo costs $199, but $99 for Prime members.
Images courtesy of Amazon