Bluetooth speakers already come in all shapes and sizes, so what could make Amazon Echo so special? Maybe the fact that it is the e-tailer’s answer to Apple’s Siri, in a living room-friendly format.
Much like Microsoft’s Xbox One, the Amazon Echo Bluetooth speaker is always on. A device that’s always listening in doesn’t sound like a very good idea, but much like the Redmond tech giant’s gaming console, it is activated using a word, or in this case, a name: Alexa. I would’ve went with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, as… you know, there are people whose name is Alexa, and if one of them visited you, confusion would ensue.
The e-tailer’s latest product doesn’t really have an equivalent in the tech world, so I might as well call this a premiere. Echo is a virtual assistant, much like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Google Now. Unlike those, it doesn’t live in your smartphone or tablet, but in your living room. Once it’s activated, it listens to your commands, and the options are quite variate. Since it features 7 microphones and noise-cancellation technologies, it can filter sound and recognize your commands no matter where in the room you are located.
Amazon’s virtual assistant can play music from Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio. However, that’s only the beginning, as it can also tell you the weather forecast, the latest news, and it can answer simple queries using Wikipedia as its source of information. The free encyclopedia may not be the most accurate source of information in the world, but it’s good starting point.
Echo also comes with a companion app, which is available for Fire OS and Android. It’s funny how Google makes apps for iOS, but Apple doesn’t get any love from Amazon. In the big picture, Amazon Echo could represent a major step forward for manufacturers of smart home devices, provided that the e-tailer is open to work on interconnectivity. There are many ways this could be improved, and let’s just hope it does not share Fire Phone’s short life and miserable fate.
At $199, Echo isn’t exactly cheap, but the ones needing such a smart Bluetooth speaker won’t hesitate to pay this much. As with the Fire TV Stick, Amazon Prime subscribers will get Echo at a lower price, $99.