Today Amazon unveiled what may be its most peculiar hardware to date, and it's not what you would expect. It's... wait, did you hear that?
Sorry, it was just an Echo.
Amazon Echo is a cylindrical speaker that responds to your voice commands. If you want music, tell it what to play. If you want to know the weather, ask it the question. It can handle alarms, pull up information from Wikipedia, or update you on the news. All you have to do is say its name and ask.
The idea of essentially snatching Google Now or Siri out of a phone and shoving them into a standalone product is an interesting one.
When we last left Kyocera, the company was still trying to convince us that more screens are more better. Today at CTIA, the company best known for creating the company printer you kick at least once a week in the office announced two new phones that are decidedly less gimmicky: the Kyocera Hydro and the Kyocera Rise of the Machines.
First off, the Kyocera Hydro, which is designed to be water resistant, and billed as a device that can "withstand the spills and drops of everyday life." Which is handy because, as a device with a single-core 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 512MB of RAM, there is a very real chance you'll want to throw this device in a lake on more than one occasion.
Looks like Sprint is pushing some OTA updates to a couple of all-but-forgotten devices: the LG Marquee and the Kyocera Echo. We haven't really heard much about the Marquee since it was announced back in September, but it appears that Sprint hasn't forgotten about it. A minor OTA update should be rolling out to the Marquee right now that brings a couple of bug fixes:
Device may lockup while on call
Similarly, that quirky little dual-screened oddity known as the Kyocera Echo is also on the receiving end of a minor update that fixes some issues:
MMS audio cuts off after 8 seconds
Changes to roaming guard display
Activation of Commercial Mobile Alert System
It's probably safe to assume that the security update portion of both OTAs is the removal of Carrier IQ, which Sprint has been removing from all of its devices over the last several weeks.
It's a bittersweet feeling when one of the most revolutionary devices to hit the market ends up on a carrier's EOL (End of Life) list. While it's generally realized that the device itself is old hat, its retirement indicates that newer, better, and more powerful devices are upon us.
This is the case for one of Android's most celebrated success stories: the HTC EVO 4G. According an internal Sprint document obtained by SprintFeed, the white variant of the EVO 4G will meet its demise at the end of this week, while the black one will hang on for just a while longer -- at least until the first part of October.
Last week we got our hands on the Sprint Playbook which indicated that the Kyocera Echo would be receiving a firmware update to Android 2.3. Accordingly, a page has now gone live on the official Kyocera Echo webpage confirming that an update to Android 2.3.4 is imminent. By the looks of the Echo webpage this update will bring some major features and enhancements to this unique device.
As indicated in the Playbook the update will include Swype 3.0 with "Tap Correction and Horizontal Word Choice List" (i.e. predictive text), an improved "Downloads application", and the eponymous "Echo Mode" which is essentially an app to manage the device's battery.
Today's Sprint Playbook just landed in our inbox, and one thing stands out: the Kyocera Echo will be receiving an update to Android 2.3. The update will be over the air (OTA), and will be rolled out across a four-day period beginning August 1 at a rate of 10%, 25%, 25%, 100%.
The details of the update (as shown in the screencap above):
You've already seen the very early unboxing of Sprint's upcoming dual-screen Kyocera Echo, and now Wirefly went for an even deeper, more detailed look at the UI itself and all the arguably cool things you can do with such an unconventional interface. The Echo has many people skeptical, but now you can at least try to decide for yourself whether the 2-screen design is a complete gimmick or not. One thing is for sure - if the manufacturer has to include 2 batteries straight in the box, don't expect any world records out of this power-sucker.
As you may have guessed from the title, I figure I'll let you know what I think about the Echo while you're here (alternatively, if you don't care what I think, scroll on down for the poll). (For those who need to familiarize themselves with the device, here's the official announcement.)
So, two screens for the price of one - that seems to be Sprint's angle with the Echo. After a completely unrelated appearance by David Blaine at its big launch event today, America's comeback carrier debuted this circus freak of a handset. Reactions have been, shall we say, mixed.