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Aether's smart speaker can now talk back to you

Aether's smart speaker can now talk back to you


New update adds voice feedback to the Cone

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The Aether Cone is billed as a "smart" speaker, a product that can learn your habits and predict the type of music you want to listen at a given time of the day. The Cone has supported voice control since launch, but a new update rolling out today adds the ability for the speaker to talk back to you.

With voice feedback, you can ask the Cone what music is playing, get confirmation on a command, or identify which Cone is which when you have multiple units in your home. The idea is that you'll use the Cone's companion smartphone app less and your voice more often. It's also easy to envision how this could be expanded in the future: it doesn't take a giant leap of logic to see how the Cone might be able to tell you the weather or provide quick information from voice commands, much like Amazon's Echo. (You do have to touch the center button on the Cone before issuing a command — it's not always listening like Amazon's product.)

Since its launch just about a year ago, the Cone has gained features such as Bluetooth and support for multiple speakers, which joined its existing AirPlay, Rdio, podcast, and radio station support. The $399 Cone's biggest weakness is still its lack of support for streaming services other than Rdio: if you use Spotify, Google Music, Pandora, or any other streaming service, you can't take advantage of the Cone's voice control, prediction, or learning features. But if you're an Rdio user or just want an attractive wireless speaker that supports both AirPlay and Bluetooth and now talks back to you, it's an interesting option.