We’ve seen the Amazon Echo family expand quite a bit over the last few years but apparently ain’t seen nothing yet. In a surprise announcement, Amazon unveiled a massive number of new Alexa-powered goodies.
Amazon Echo gets redesigned.
The Amazon Echo has spawned a number of related products, but today it gets a direct update. The new Amazon Echo is smaller than the original, and even follows a few cues from Google Home, such as its removable cloth shell. The Echo is still a cylinder, but it’s design is now a bit more refined and less of a plastic-clad bore. (Image seen directly above)
Amazon has also upgraded the microphones for even better recognition when at a distance, it also has a dedicated bass speaker and support for Dolby Audio. Interestingly enough, Amazon will offer a 3-pack for $150, which will even allow multi-room audio in a vein similar to Sonos. For those that just want one, it’ll cost $99.
There’s a Plus size model.
No, the Amazon Echo Plus isn’t a curvier version of the original Echo. Essentially the same thing as the new Echo, but it has a smart home hub built-in this time. In addition to all the new audio features of the 2nd gen Amazon Echo, the Plus can directly link with other Zigbee devices, including Hue lights. The Plus will even come with a Philips Hue White bulb.
One thing you’ll notice is the design is essentially the same as the first-gen Amazon Echo, but with all the features of the Echo’s successor. The price is set at $149.
Amazon enters the smart clock market.
The Echo Spot basically a smaller Echo Show, following the same formula of adding a display and a camera. Obviously the screen is much smaller at 2.5-inches. With the clock you’ll be able to set alarms! Okay, you’ll also be able to make voice calls, show security camera feeds, display song lyrics, and basically anything a normal Echo would do. The Spot will cost $130 and will go on sale in December.
Calling landlines with the Echo is now a thing.
Amazon is adding land-line support to the Echo family via the new Echo Connect. The Connect is basically a simple speaker device that lets you call others with the power of Alexa. The Connect will cost $35 and will ship sometime in Q4 of this year.
Go ahead and press Echo’s buttons.
Amazon Echo Buttons are Bluetooth powered buttons. They glow and stuff. At least for now they will be used for trivia games, courtesy of Alexa (via your Echo devices). They will cost just $19 for a two pack. Will they eventually do more? Possibly, but for now, they seem to have pretty limited functionality, though the new Gadgets API should allow developers to potentially expand what the Buttons can do in the future.
The Echo family will soon learn some new tricks, too
Amazon announced a new API that lets developers build multi-step routines into Alexa commands. In Amazon’s demo, Amazon VIP Dave Limp said “Alexa, good morning”, which then triggered a variety of things. First, the lights came on. Next, a window shade rolled up. Finally, Amazon started reading the news. Oh, it also started boiling a teakettle. Obviously it will be up to developers to create handy combinations like this, but we’re sure this will open up plenty of new possibilities.