Ok, so we are a little late on announcing this since we have been sitting in front of the a new Yamaha receiver we will be talking about soon (that has simply stunned our attention away from things),but now it’s time to take a step back to see what we missed for now!
Amazon has finally started to sell the Echo speaker to the general public, taking pre-orders that began towards the end of last month. The speaker is expected to start shipping around the 14th of July and is available for slightly less than the original quoted price Amazon gave during trials ($179).
Similar to the voice assistant you have on any major smartphone, the Amazon Echo has the capability of interacting with your voice, allowing you to ask it various questions as well as tell it to perform a number of tasks. It can also interact with smart devices around the home.
It starts off by acting as a simple voice assistant for weather, music news and more. You can place it anywhere in your house and it connects to your network via WiFi. You can ask it to play your favorite music or find out if you may need an umbrella before leaving the house (just in case your windows isn’t sufficient enough for this). Discover which teams are winning among your favorite sport picks and find out if you may have any issues with traffic before you head to work.
All of this, plus it can interact with devices around the house such as the Phillips Hue light bulbs and other devices that support similar home automated functions. It can also interact with IFTTT for setting up advanced “recipes” which only extend this function even further.
Prime members can also make use of the Echo to order Amazon Prime supported products from Amazon by simply using their voice. This allows the user to quickly order new supplies for the house such as soap, filters and other necessities, without ever having to log into a computer. A pretty neat function as we continue to push ahead and replace our time with more important tasks vs staying glued to the PC all day.
Since Amazon has also announced an ad-supported free subscription option for Amazon’s music streaming services, you will probably be seeing support for this in the future. For now, Prime members are the only ones who can take advantage of streaming from Amazon’s own service, but the Echo does support 3rd party applications such as Pandora and iHeart Radio as well.
Amazon plans to support the Echo by offering updates to its software in the near future that will bring additional features and commands, with hopes that the Echo will become your personal home demi-AI assistant that you can rely on for basic information and media needs.
You should expect to see the Echo trying to take over for some of the currently available smarthome hub solutions as future updates develop. Amazon, like Google and other related competitors, is striving hard to become your go-to solution for a connected home.