Alexa, Alexa everywhere! Amazon is continuing to push its voice assistant and devices everywhere it can and the newest countries after the US, UK, Germany, Japan, India, Ireland, and Canada, to join in on the fun are Australia and New Zealand.

Yesterday (sorry we're late on this), Amazon announced that its Alexa Skills Kit (to create voice commands for your service) and Alexa Voice Service (to integrate Alexa itself into your product) are coming to Australia and New Zealand. They're bringing along the three current Echo devices from Amazon's line-up, which are now up for pre-order at introductory prices, with even cheaper special 2-pack discounts. And I can only hope Amazon set up Alexa to answer with "Oi Oi Oi" everytime it hears you scream "Aussie Aussie Aussie!" otherwise it'd be a wasted opportunity.

  • Echo Dot (2nd gen): $79 AUD (pre-order $49), available in black and white
  • Echo (2nd gen): $149 AUD (pre-order $119), available in fabric finish only with sandstone, charcoal, and heather grey colors
  • Echo Plus: $229 AUD (pre-order $199), available only in black
  • Echo Dot (2nd gen) 2-pack: $79 AUD instead of $98
  • Echo (2nd gen) 2-pack: $199 AUD instead of $238.

So if you want to get in on that Echo/Alexa fun, you may want to place your pre-order now to benefit from the discounted prices. The devices will be released on February 1 and begin shipping then. The links above point to the Australian Amazon store, but from what I understand they're the same for residents of New Zealand, amazon.com.au ships there.

Also being announced for Australia and New Zealand is Amazon Music Unlimited, the company's on-demand streaming service with over 45 million songs and a special catalog of local artists like Courtney Barnett, Vance Joy, Sia, Gang of Youths, and Morgan Evans. It will have 3 tiers as it does in the rest of the world:

  • Echo Plan: $4.99 AUD/month with full access to Music Unlimited on a single Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus
  • Individual Plan: $11.99 AUD/month with full access on as many devices as you want for one account
  • Family Plan: $17.99 AUD/month with full access for six members (accounts) of a household on as many devices as they want.

If you're interested, you should bookmark this page and revisit it on February 1 when it launches along with the new Echo devices.

Press Release

Amazon Introduces Alexa and the All-New Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot to Australia
 
Alexa is a cloud-based voice service that is always getting smarter—she answers questions, plays music, turns on and off the lights, gives you sports scores, reads eBooks, and more
 
Amazon Echo is a revolutionary device designed entirely around your voice—priced at just $149 AUD, it’s always ready, hands-free, and fast—just ask Alexa and get answers instantly
 
Put an Echo Dot in every room—connect it to an external speaker or use it as a standalone device to access all the capabilities of Alexa for just $79 AUD
 
Echo Plus integrates a built-in smart home hub to easily connect your compatible smart devices—set up and start controlling lights in minutes for just $229 AUD
For a limited time, enjoy special introductory pricing on Echo devices on amazon.com.au—Echo Dot for just $49 AUD, Echo for just $119 AUD, and Echo Plus for just $199 AUD; or, buy a two-pack of Echo Dot or Echo and save even more
With Amazon Music Unlimited, the on-demand, streaming music service, turn Echo devices into the ultimate personalised music player—Echo device owners can enjoy a free 90-day trial for a limited time
SYDNEY—18 January, 2018—Amazon today announced that Alexa, the brain that powers the Echo family of devices, is coming to Australia, along with three Alexa-enabled devices: Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus. Customers may preorder devices beginning today at www.amazon.com.au/echowww.amazon.com.au/echodot, and www.amazon.com.au/echoplus and devices will begin shipping in early February.
Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus are voice-controlled speakers designed entirely around your voice—they are always ready, hands-free, and fast. Alexa is the brain behind Echo—since she runs in the cloud, Alexa is always getting smarter. Just ask, and Alexa will answer questions, play music, read the news, control lights, read eBooks, and much more. With far-field voice control, you can do all this from across the room using your voice.
Alexa delivers an all-new experience for customers in Australia, featuring a new voice for the Alexa Australia and New Zealand edition, local knowledge, and skills built by Australian developers.
“Tens of millions of customers are already using Alexa, and today we’re excited to bring her to Australia with a localised experience designed for our Australian customers,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices & Services. “The combination of Alexa and Echo provides customers with hands-free access to music, weather, news, information, and more—just ask.”
Customers around the world have left more than 125,000 5-star reviews for Alexa and Echo—here’s what they’re saying:
·         “I love, love, love Alexa. I use it every single day. I can't even count how many people I have recommended Echo to.”
·         “Echo is easy to setup and easy to use. I love it. Five stars out of five.”
·         “I absolutely LOVE my Amazon Echo. One of those bits of modern technology that quickly becomes indispensable. I cannot believe the variety of things I use it for.”
Amazon Echo—The Hands-Free, Always Ready Speaker for just $149 AUD
Echo is a hands-free, voice-controlled speaker that allows you to access Alexa from anywhere in the room with far-field voice control. It uses on-device software to detect the wake word, “Alexa.” When Echo detects the wake word, the device’s light ring turns blue and begins streaming the request to the cloud where Alexa processes the request. Since Alexa is built in the cloud and leverages Amazon Web Services, the Voice Service is always getting smarter and adding more functionality.
2nd Generation Far-Field Voice Recognition with Beam Forming Technology
Amazon Echo has an array of seven microphones that use beam-forming technology and noise cancellation so it can clearly hear you from across the room. This advanced beam-forming technology combines the signals from the individual microphones to suppress noise, reverberation, the music currently playing, and even competing speech to make sure Alexa clearly hears your request, even when in a noisy room.
Omnidirectional, Room-Filling Sound
Amazon Echo has been fine-tuned to deliver crisp vocals with dynamic bass response. Its 2.5” down-firing woofer, dedicated tweeter, Dolby processing, and 360° omni-directional audio deliver crisp vocals and dynamic bass throughout the room. Echo can stream music directly from popular music services such as Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. Echo is also Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream music directly from your phone or tablet.
Designed to Fit Into Your Home
Amazon Echo is designed to fit into any room of your home. Pick from a variety of shell colours to fit into your home’s décor—choices include sandstone, heather grey, and charcoal.
Echo Dot—Add Alexa to Any Room for Only $79 AUD
Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice controlled device that is powered by Alexa and uses the same far-field voice recognition as Echo. Echo Dot has a sleek and compact design, comes in either black or white, and is priced affordably so you can put an Echo Dot in every room. Use the built-in speaker to talk with Alexa and listen to music, or directly connect speakers you already own through Bluetooth or a 3.5mm stereo cable.
Echo Plus—Set Up Your Smart Home in Minutes for $229 AUD
Echo Plus includes all the features of Echo, including room-filling sound powered by Dolby and a far-field microphone array, and adds a built-in smart home hub.
With the built-in smart home hub and available in black, Echo Plus makes connecting to compatible smart home devices easy. Just say “Alexa, discover my devices,” and Echo Plus will automatically discover and set up compatible lights, smart plugs, and switches without the need for additional hubs or apps. This simple set-up works initially with ZigBee-supported products from Philips Hue.
Alexa—The Brain Behind Amazon Echo
Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus are powered by Alexa. Built in the cloud, and with tens of thousands of third party developers around the world creating skills, Alexa is always getting smarter. With Alexa, you can use just your voice to:
 
Hear the News
Alexa can read the news and give customised updates based on your preferences. You can choose your favourite outlets to provide the news or sports results, including Ten News, Sky News Australia, SBS, and Fox Sports. Just say “Alexa, what’s the news?” or “Alexa, read my flash briefing.”
Get the Weather
Ask Alexa about local, national, and international weather forecasts. For example: “Alexa, will it rain tomorrow?”, “Alexa, what’s the weather in Melbourne?” or “Alexa, what’s the weather in Tokyo this weekend?”
Play Music
Alexa offers a seamless, hands-free music experience with premier music services including Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. Control volume and playback for millions of songs by saying “Alexa, turn it up” or “Alexa, skip this song.” If you aren’t sure who an artist is, just say “Alexa, which song is this?”
Turn your Echo into the Ultimate Personalised Music Player with Amazon Music Unlimited
Combining Alexa with Amazon Music Unlimited, a catalogue of more than 45 million tracks, makes it easier than ever to discover and listen to music on offer. If you want to hear a specific mood or genre just ask, “Alexa, play happy pop music,” or if you’re not sure what to play, just say “Alexa, play music” and Alexa will find something personalised just for you. Echo owners also get a free, 90-day Amazon Music Unlimited trial for a limited time. After the trial ends, subscription plans for Echo devices are available starting at just $4.99 AUD a month. Customers can learn more at www.amazon.com.au/music.
Multi-Room Music
You can group multiple Echo devices for synchronised music streaming in every room. Simply use the Alexa App to create groups with two or more Echo devices by naming the group, such as “downstairs.” Once you’ve created the group, say “Alexa, play music downstairs.”
Control your Smart Home
Use Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus to switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie—all using just your voice. Alexa works with Zigbee and Wi-Fi enabled products including lights, thermostats, smart plugs, and switches from brands including Philips Hue, Telstra Smart Home, LIFX, TP-link, and Harmony. To help get your smart home started, Amazon customers will receive Philips Hue smart lightbulb with every purchase of an Echo Plus while supplies last.
In addition, you can use the new Routines feature which allows you to automate a series of customisable actions using a single voice command of your choice. For example, say, “Alexa, good night,” and Alexa will dim the lights and turn off the TV. You can also create Routines based on the time of day—for example, you can create a Routine that has Alexa turn on the kitchen lights, start the coffee maker, and read the weather forecast at 6 a.m. every weekday and at 9 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
Hands-free Calling and Messaging
With Echo, you can easily talk hands-free to anyone with a supported Echo device or the Alexa App—no tapping or searching required. Your contacts will see your number when they receive the call so they know who is calling. Additionally, you can send messages via voice or text to anyone with a supported Echo device or the Alexa App. Just say “Alexa, call Mum,” or “Alexa, send a message to Hayley.”
Let your household know when dinner is ready, ask someone for help with a task, or remind the kids to go to sleep—without having to raise your voice. With the Drop In feature enabled for room-to-room calling, quickly connect with compatible Echo devices in your home. Just say “Alexa, drop in on the kitchen.”
Ask Questions
Ask Alexa all kinds of questions, including those about famous people, dates, places, calculations, conversions, spelling, and much more. For example, “Alexa, who is the Australian Prime Minister?”, “How long is the Sydney Harbour Bridge?” or “Alexa, what’s a sausage sizzle?” Or, ask Alexa for a joke by saying “Alexa, tell me a joke.”
Follow your Favourite Sports Teams
Ask Alexa for live scores or scores for completed games, find out when your favourite team plays their next game, and more. Tennis fans can just ask, “Alexa, when is the Australian Open final?” or cricket tragics can ask, “Alexa, when does the Australian cricket team play next?”
Set Timers and Alarms
Set up multiple alarms and timers with your voice, including setting repeating alarms. Just say “Alexa, wake me up at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning”, “Alexa, how much time is left on my timer?”, or “Alexa, set a repeating alarm for Tuesday at 9 a.m.”
Create Shopping and To-Do Lists
Alexa can help you stay organised by creating and managing your To-Do and Shopping lists. Just say “Alexa, add Vegemite to my Shopping list,” or “Alexa, put ‘change oil’ on my To-Do list.”
Check your Calendar
Ask Alexa to add or read events from your Google Calendar or read events from shared calendars. Just say “Alexa, what’s on my calendar tomorrow at 9 a.m.?”, “Alexa, add an event to my calendar,” or “Alexa, add ‘shopping’ to my calendar for Saturday at 10 a.m.”
Echo Spatial Perception (ESP)
If you have multiple Echo devices within hearing distance, Amazon’s ESP technology intelligently calculates the clarity of your voice and determines which Echo is closest and should respond to the request—instantly. This feature is smart—performance gets better over time, so ESP will continuously improve as you use Echo. In multi-Echo households, ESP resolves the problem of two Echo devices answering you at the same time.
 
Third Party Skills
Developers can use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) to build skills. With over 10,000 skills available in Australia, including skills developed by local brands, you can get surf reports from Coastalwatch, prepare dinner with the help of recipes fromTaste.com.au, check travel details and get loyalty program updates from Qantas, or check your account balance with Westpac or NAB, and more. For more information on Alexa skills, visit https://www.amazon.com.au/skills.
Additional Alexa-Enabled Devices
The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) enables developers to integrate Alexa directly into their products, bringing the convenience of voice control to any connected device. Companies including Logitech, Sonos, and Eufy Genie plan to release Alexa-enabled AVS products in Australia, enabling customers to access a growing number of Alexa features, smart home integrations, and skills on their favourite devices.
Pricing and Availability
Echo, Echo Plus, and Echo Dot are available for preorder beginning today at www.amazon.com.au/echo,www.amazon.com.au/echodot, and www.amazon.com.au/echoplus. To help get your smart home started, Amazon customers will receive a Philips Hue smart lightbulb with every purchase of an Echo Plus while supplies last.
For a limited time, enjoy special introductory pricing on Echo devices on amazon.com.au —Echo Dot for just $49 AUD, Echo for just $119 AUD, and Echo Plus for just $199 AUD; or, buy a two-pack of Echo Dot or Echo and save even more.
Devices will ship from Amazon beginning early February, and will also be available at JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, Telstra, and Myer in early February.
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