Amazon developing a premium version of its Alexa-powered Echo speaker
Amazon.com Inc. is working on a top quality Echo-like speaker with a screen, an indication that the world’s biggest online retailer is attempting to take advantage of the shock success of its voice-controlled home gadgets and stave off opposition from Apple Inc and Google.
The latest device will have a touchscreen which measures about 7”, the central removal from Amazon’s modern cylindrical home devices that are managed and respond mainly via the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people conversant with the matter. This would make it simpler to view content such as calendar appointments, weather forecasts, and the news said the people. They requested not to be acknowledged speaking about a product that has yet to be launched.
The most recent Amazon speaker will be bigger and tilt upwards so the screen can be seen when it is resting on a countertop and the user is standing, said one of the people.
Top-quality speakers will make the gadget sound a lot better than existing Echo devices, this person also said. Amazon’s new device is planned to be launched as soon as the first quarter of 2017, added the source. Amazon, which is based in Seattle, Washington, refused to comment.
The supposed smart home gadgets are one of the most recent computing battlegrounds fought over by the leading tech firms. Nevertheless, they have failed so far to equal the popularity of smartphones and PCs. Amazon’s track record when it comes to hardware has equally been mixed, with the unsatisfactory introduction of the Fire Phone back in 2014. Its Echo speakers have been a shock hit, though, with Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) estimating U.S. sales of further than 5 million units ever since its launch in 2014.
Amazon’s intended development of the Alexa-powered line comes at the same time with mounting opposition from Alphabet Incorporated’s Google Home speaker and Apple Inc.’s curiosity in constructing a home device utilizing its Siri digital assistant.
The latest Amazon device will use an optimized version of the Fire OS, the software that operates the Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box and Fire tablets. The gadget will still react to vocal commands and spoken
questions, just like existing Alexa devices. Amazon is equally trying a feature that permits users to add items such as pictures on the screen of their speaker akin to actually placing items on the door of a refrigerator, said one of the people.
Amazon intends to sell the Tap, Dot and Echo speakers that are usually situated in bedrooms and living rooms, one of the people said. The price of the existing speakers is $50, $130 and $180, in that order, whereas the version with a screen will possibly be higher priced, said the other person.
Various reviewers panned the existing Echo for reduced audio quality, which is partially due to Amazon designing it to sound better at modest volume levels, according to one of the people. The speaker will play premium audio at every volume level, said this person. In any case, one sample version of the device puts the speakers underneath and at the back of the screen, they added.
The Wall Street Journal said early in the year
that the hardware unit of Amazon’s Lab126 was working on an Alexa-powered device which features a tablet-like computer screen identified within as “Knight.”
Amazon first launched its Alexa voice assistant along with the Echo speaker approximately two years ago. Although the Echo line of products has proven to be exceptionally popular, the audio the flagship model produces still leaves a little to be desired. If you are interested in the idea of Alexa but have been keeping off buying an Echo as a result of the lackluster sound quality, Amazon is producing something that may appeal to you – an Alexa device equipped with touch screen and premium sound.
Based on sources for Bloomberg, who are two people at Amazon conversant with the project, the new device will leave the present Echo and Echo Dot’s cylindrical design for a bigger one with a touchscreen around 7” diagonally (think Nexus 7). The touchscreen will, in fact, tilt upwards for simpler use when the consumer is standing and shows content such as weather, news, and appointments. Back in May, The Wall Street Journal talked about a comparable touchscreen device powered by Alexa, called “Knight” on the inside, which could be what this latest product is.
Powering the 7” screen will be a customized version of the Fire OS, the system based on Android is presently used on the Fire TV Stick, Fire TV, and Fire tablets. Akin to the Echo and other current devices equipped with Alexa, the new device will react to questions and voice commands. Additionally, Amazon is testing a feature that permits the user to attach things like photos to the display, similar to how notes are stuck on refrigerator doors with magnets.
Whereas the Echo is optimized to play improved sound at modest levels of volume, Bloomberg’s sources have alleged that the high-quality speakers of the new device will sound great at any volume. One notion that is being well thought-out has the speakers underneath and at the back of the modifiable touchscreen.
This new Echo gadget could be launched as early as the first quarter of 2017, which is amid one and four months away. The Echo, Echo Tap, and Echo Dot won’t be broken up by the device’s introduction. The price was not so much revealed, although it will almost likely be grander than the Echo’s MSRP of $179.99.
The sense of adding a touchscreen to Echo is the same reason as a way to make it simpler to access the content, like the weather and forthcoming calendar events. Presently, Echo is a device which is voice-activated with reduced volume and mute buttons on its topside. Whereas the precise design of the speaker was not pinned down, people conversant with the plans said it would be bigger and “incline upwards” so consumers can read the screen while the Echo sits on a desk or the kitchen counter.