Amazon on Thursday quietly introduced a somewhat surprising device called the Amazon Echo. It’s basically a large smart speaker that’s connected to the cloud and can be used to perform many actions that users of Google Now, Cortana and Siri will already be familiar with.
The device, which looks like a skinnier version of a paper towel tube, is outfitted with a 2.5-inch woofer, a 2.0-inch tweeter, a light ring, a 7-array microphone that should be able to pick up voice commands across the room, and an action button.
Amazon says you can issue a variety of commands to the Echo after using the “Alexa” wake-up word, so a user can ask for the weather, the latest news from NPR, ESPN and TuneIn, stream music from the Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio, query Wikipedia, set reminders and more. A user might say “Alexa, what’s the weather in New York,” for example, or “Alexa, play music by Michael Jackson.” You can also use the device as a standard Bluetooth speaker to stream other music stations and content from any other Bluetooth-connected device and it works with Android and Fire OS natively, or browsers on the desktop and on iOS.
“Echo’s brain is in the cloud, running on Amazon Web Services so it continually learns and adds more functionality over time,” Amazon explains on its website. ” The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.”
Amazon’s Echo is only available through invite right now, though interested parties can request one in the source link below. It will cost $199.99 when it debuts and Prime members will be able to take advantage of a $99 introductory price.