Amazon just surprised us all with a surprise announcement to introduce a bunch of new Echo and Alexa devices just before the holiday season. Slotting its announcement right after the new Apple TV 4K launched and right before Google is expected to launch a new Google Home speaker, Amazon is here to remind us that its Alexa technology is still here, and it is still one of the most adopted in the majority of gadgets in the voice-activated industry. From a new and updated Fire TV set-top box to several new Echo devices, here are all the latest news out of Amazon’s press event in Seattle.
Sep 27, 2017
The 5 biggest announcements from Amazon’s hardware event
Amazon surprised everyone with a press event that unveiled a bunch of new Echo hardware. The Echo speaker, originally launched in 2014, was overdue for an update after the company spun off devices with a camera and a touchscreen. Today’s event also introduced a refreshed Fire TV, just days after Apple launched its updated Apple TV with 4K support.Read Article >
If you missed any of it, we have the biggest announcements right here.
Up close with the adorably tiny Echo Spot
Of the many new Echo devices announced by Amazon today, the Echo Spot is one that’ll likely be a hit this holiday season. The device is basically a smaller version of the Echo Show, Amazon’s first Echo device with a touchscreen. It includes a 2.5-inch screen that allows it to double as an alarm clock or a nursery camera, all while still being able to make video calls through the mini screen.Read Article >
Amazon is hoping customers will buy multiple Spots and scatter them around the house. Things you can do with your Spot include getting the weather, watching video news, setting alarms, or viewing your children through a connected smart camera. It can also control other elements of a smart home, such as connected lights or thermostats.
Amazon introduces the Echo Spot, an alarm clock with a 2.5-inch screen
Today, Amazon introduced the Echo Spot, a device with a small screen that serves as a kind of smart alarm clock. The Spot has a 2.5-inch screen and is an evolution of both the Echo Dot and the Echo Show, marrying a screen with the kind of small device that can be placed throughout the house, the company says. “It works great as an alarm clock. But it does a lot more,” Amazon devices chief Dave Limp said.Read Article >
Like the show, the Spot can be used to make video calls. It has built-in sound, but it also has a line out so that it can be connected to external speakers via a cable or Bluetooth. It’ll also support streaming from services like Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. Amazon is hoping users will buy several little Spot devices to sync them up for multi-room audio support.
Amazon’s new Echo Plus doubles as a smart home hub
It’s a day of Echo speakers: Amazon just announced a new Echo Plus speaker, in addition to a second-generation Echo and Echo Connect speaker phone.Read Article >
The new Echo Plus is set apart, though: its abilities double as a smart home hub, one that connects to various wireless protocols to set up and control connected home gadgets and appliances.
Sep 27, 2017
Amazon announces new Fire TV with 4K and HDR for only $70
Amazon today introduced a new $69.99 Fire TV with HDR and 4K capabilities. The redesigned Fire TV is a small flat square dongle with an HDMI cable sticking out, and it again ships with an Alexa voice remote included. It’s basically a smaller version of the discontinued set-top box that now plugs into the back of your TV and hangs there. The previous Fire TV box already did 4K, but this one can now play it at 60 frames per second and adds HDR (high dynamic range) as a brand new feature to Amazon’s streaming devices.Read Article >
Its announcement comes just days after Apple finally launched a new Apple TV with 4K support. But the Apple TV starts at $179, which is more than twice as expensive as this latest generation of Amazon’s Fire TV. That makes for a rough comparison if you’re Apple.
You can soon activate multi-step routines in Alexa with a single command
Saying “good morning” to your Echo could soon trigger a whole raft of commands. As part of the Amazon event in Seattle today, the company showed off a new API that lets developers build multi-step routines into simple Alexa commands.Read Article >
In a demonstration, Amazon device VIP Dave Limp said “Alexa, good morning,” which triggered a sequence of events in the faux-home setting that Amazon set up in its headquarters for the event. First, the lights came on in the demonstration room. Then, a smart window shade rolled up, and Alexa began reading the news. Finally, a teakettle began to boil water.
Sep 27, 2017
Amazon announces $20 Echo Buttons for playing trivia games with your family
Amazon announced a new member to its Echo family: Echo Buttons are designed to offer physical interaction with other Echo devices, specifically for use in playing family games.Read Article >
The new devices are small and roughly hockey puck-shaped in size (think a sleeker version of Staples’ easy button, but one that lights up). Owners will be able to use them to play games in conjunction with an Alexa device. At its press event today, Amazon showed off the buttons playing games like trivia, where users push the button to answer just like on traditional televised game shows.
Amazon’s new $35 Echo Connect will let you make phone calls
Amazon’s Echo products have always been good at voice-related functions, except for one key voice-related function: making phone calls. Now there’s a new solution for that.Read Article >
At a hardware event at its new Seattle campus today, Amazon announced the Echo Connect, a $35 speaker / phone device that plugs into the wall and lets US customers make phone calls through their Echo speakers. The call is tied to the owner’s phone number, so receivers will still know who’s calling them. That makes this new Echo more like landline speaker.
Amazon expands Alexa messaging and calling to the UK and Germany
Amazon added Alexa voice calling and messaging to US devices earlier this year, and it’s now expanding to Europe. Alexa’s voice calling feature will work on standard Echo or Echo Dot devices, and it allows Alexa-powered devices to call each other. You can also call Alexa devices using the Alexa app for iOS and Android.Read Article >
While the existing calling feature didn’t support calling phone numbers, Amazon is also enabling calls to any numbers in the US today. It’s not clear when this will be expanded to the UK and Germany, though.
BMW is integrating Alexa into its cars in 2018
Alexa will be integrated into BMWs and selected Mini vehicles starting in mid-2018, the company said today. The integration uses microphones embedded into the car, the company said. Alexa visual content will also be displayed on the head unit inside the vehicle. “It’s a complete, comprehensive set of internet capabilities that is available inside your vehicle,” a BMW executive said at an Amazon event today in Seattle.Read Article >
With Alexa inside the vehicle, drivers can use voice commands to use basic Alexa commands like asking for news and weather, in addition to third-party apps like Starbucks and NPR.
Amazon’s new Echo is smaller and costs $99
Amazon introduced a second-generation version of the Echo today with a dedicated bass tweeter and a modified, shorter design. The new device looks to be about half the size of the original Echo, is cloth-covered, and goes on sale today for $99. The company is also selling a three-pack for the first time, offering multi-room audio for $250. To qualify, you’ll just need to add three Echos to your cart and Amazon will deduct $50 off the total.Read Article >
Multi-room audio has been a major request of Echo users nearly since its inception. The introduction of audio that can stream to multiple devices simultaneously means that Echo now poses a direct competitive threat to Sonos. It will also offer a low-cost alternative to Apple’s forthcoming HomePod.
Amazon is holding a surprise hardware event today
Amazon is holding a surprise hardware event in Seattle today. The online retailer is expected to unveil new Alexa-powered devices, just ahead of the busy holiday season. Amazon’s event kicks off at 10:30AM PT / 1:30PM ET, and The Verge will be live covering the news as it happens.Read Article >
Amazon hasn’t refreshed its Echo hardware since the company introduced a white version of the Alexa-powered speaker last year, and recent price drops have hinted that a new device could be near. Amazon’s existing Echo speaker is currently “unavailable” at the company’s online store right now, so we’re expecting to see something new. Amazon could also be readying a new Fire TV set-top box with support for Alexa, or a refreshed Fire TV Stick to better compete with Google’s Chromecast.