Amazon Echo is Part Speaker, Part Assistant – and Tells You What You Want to Hear

In its first major push into the smart automation market, Amazon announced a new cylinder-shaped device on Thursday called Amazon Echo, which tracks the news, plays your music, says the weather, remembers your shopping list and even tells you jokes.

Amazon Echo will cost $99 for Amazon Prime members (for a limited time) and $199 for the rest of us. Considering an Amazon Prime membership is $99, it’s obvious that the steep discount is another incentive to get people to sign up for Prime and stay loyal to its ecosystem.

The device stands at 9 inches high and looks and serves as a speaker. Similar to Apple’s voice assistant software Siri, Amazon Echo responds to “Alexa.” From there, you can talk to the device and ask it anything you want, from the weather in Los Angeles to the number of teaspoons in a tablespoon.

Echo will also read news from sites like NPR, ESPN and Wikipedia; it will tell you that Thanksgiving is on Nov. 27 this year. You can also use it to set alarms, build to-do lists and play music from platforms like iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Prime Music and TuneIn.

The device comes with seven built-in microphones and sensors that pick up on your voice in any direction; it can hear you even when it’s playing music, according to Amazon. You can watch how it works in the video above.

While Siri and other voice-assistant software already performs a lot of these features found on smartphones today, what sets Amazon Echo a part is that it is (first and foremost) a speaker and it gets smarter over time; it learns your habits, routines, speech patterns and preferences, and saves this data in the cloud.

Eventually, perhaps, you’ll be able to tell Amazon Echo to dim the lights, turn up the smart thermostat and perform other smart home-like commands. And maybe even purchase Amazon products, at the very least audio books and albums, directly through the system.

The device can be controlled when you’re out of the house via a Fire OS device or Android app, or one on an iOS desktop browser.

Amazon Echo is available to purchase via “invitation only” for now, for those selected.

Author: Samantha Murphy Kelly

Source: Mashable