Have you ever imagined Siri or Google Now outside of your smartphone and into a speaker? Well, that’s exactly what Amazon Echo is. The voice digital assistant has been around since November of last year, but it was only limited for Amazon Prime customers. But now, everyone else in the world, or rather, just the US, can pre-order the device and enjoy ordering it around when you’ve connected it to your smartphone or any of the apps and services that supports the speaker.
Amazon tried to do a One Plus sort of thing where you can only purchase the Echo if you’re a Prime subscriber or if you get an invite. They haven’t revealed sales figures yet so we don’t know if that strategy worked or not. What we do know is that now anyone living in the US can actually pre-order their very own Bluetooth-enabled speaker that has a 2.5-inch woofer and a 2-inch tweeter. The speaker also has 7 microphones around it, all the better to detect your voice as you make it do things.
So what things can you make the Echo do? First of all, you need to voice prompt it with whatever name you’ve given it, with the default being Alexa. Aside from the usual playing of the music from connected services like Amazon’s own Prime Music, Pandora, Audible, and iHeart Radio, you can ask it various questions about the weather or the scores of your favorite sports team. You can ask it to wake you up in the morning. But best of all, Amazon has slowly been adding apps and services so it can connect to your digital home’s eco-system. The newest to have Echo support are Belkin’s WeMo and Philips’ Hue lighting system. You can also use Echo with IFTTT so it can communicate with other apps.
Pre-orders for the Amazon Echo have started already on the site. It will cost you $180 and shipping will start by July 14.