Here's an interesting example of a product getting better with age. The Amazon Tap speaker was introduced as a mobile, battery-powered alternative to the Echo, with access to the same Alexa voice commands, but limited in that it could only accept said commands with a button press. This made the less-expensive Tap, while interesting, not all that much better than a smartphone for voice searches. But the latest firmware update from Amazon enables hands-free Alexa commands, like the Echo and Google's Assistant on the Google Home. Talk about a value add.
The new update can be downloaded and applied via the Amazon Alexa Android app. Once installed, the always-on voice feature can be turned on via the app whenever the speaker has a Wi-Fi connection available. The Tap should last for about 8 hours on a full charge even while always listening, and it can be put to sleep with a single button press when you're done with it. The new update actually makes the Amazon Tap something of a misnomer - tapping is no longer required.
This new feature makes the Tap functionally identical to the Echo (albeit without some of the larger device's fancy omni-directional speaker tech) at a $50 discount and a much smaller form factor. For that matter, the $130 Amazon Tap is the same price as the Google Home, and comes with untethered battery use, too. Considering how much of a head start Amazon has on Google in the voice assistant gadget category, the new update can be seen as a savvy strike at the competition.
- The Verge