Here's something interesting for those of you who've gone head-first into the smart home craze. According to ZatsNotFunny, a blog dedicated to connected home tech, Logitech is recruiting beta testers for a new tool integrating Harmony remotes with the voice control features of Amazon Alexa/Echo. Basically, users who have both should be able to speak commands into their Echo and have the remote perform them without ever picking it up. Neat.
Amazon's second generation of Alexa-enabled gadgets is ready to go. The Amazon Tap, a smaller, battery-powered version of the Amazon Echo, as well as the Echo Dot, which can use external speakers for its primary function, should both be heading out to those who purchased them after their recent announcement. The latter is only available to Amazon Prime members who order using Amazon's voice service, with a Kindle Fire tablet or Fire TV. The Tap, along with its cover accessories, are both labelled as "in stock" on Amazon's US storefront.
Both devices represent an expansion of Amazon's Alexa voice command platform, which is itself a competitor to services like Google Now, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana.
Amazon's little black cylinder likes for you to call it Alexa, and when you do, it's willing to do whatever you say. Well, whatever it can understand, anyway. And one thing it understands is how to adjust volume and pause media after you say its name. This includes the ability to mute and unmute. Pausing, naturally, would be useless without the option to play.
Amazon launched the Echo a while back as the first device with its Alexa voice control system. Now there are two more, each with a different take on the Echo's functionality at a lower price. The Echo Dot is a small connected speaker/mic that can add smarts to your existing speakers, and the Amazon Tap is a portable Bluetooth Speaker with Alexa voice commands.
Amazon Echo (her friends call here Alexa) hasbeensteadilyimproving since it launched a little over a year ago. Starting today, this little electronic monolith has a new trick up its sleeve: it can now play music directly from Spotify.
Playing music on Echo isn't exactly new: owners can already stream from services like Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and TuneIn. On top of that, Echo has always been able to play audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device. However, official Spotify support gives users a lot more control over their listening experience than having to manually manage everything (a common first-world problem).
The Echo is Amazon's little smart tube that perks up whenever you say "Alexa" and proceeds to do whatever you say. Well, as long as what you say is something it has the capability to do. If you have a house filled with Wink-compatible products, that list now includes telling Echo to take control of your home.
Try, "Alexa, turn off the fan" or "Alexa, turn on the kitchen lights." Then watch as you never burn calories getting up to flip switches yourself.
By connecting Echo to your Wink Hub, you can use your voice to control a range of supported devices.
Amazon probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you think of innovative gadgets. Not anymore, anyway. Hearing a company is producing a ho-hum smartphone based on Android isn't nearly as exciting as hearing about the Kindle for the first time. But with the Echo, the online retailer does have a cool piece of tech on its hands.
The Echo, which recently became available for general purchase in the US, is essentially what you get when you stick Google Now or Siri into a plastic tube. While that may not sound all that creative, delivery is everything. Saying OK Alexa (the name of the persona inside the device) out in the middle of the kitchen and having the product pick up from another room is rather impressive, especially when you just want to fire up some background music or search for a recipe.
Part of using Amazon revolves around ordering cool new stuff, 80% of which probably consists of impulse buys. But for people who use the site for more mundane things—say, soap—the online retailer spends a good amount of time resending the same stuff. Those who happen to own an Amazon Echo can now use the cylindrical voice assistant to re-order supplies without having to pull out a phone or head to the nearest PC.
To get Echo to send you another shipment, just say something along the lines of, "Alexa, re-order toilet paper." It will search through your order history for the item and then place an order using your default payment information.
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.