Well this one came out of nowhere: Amazon is building a speaker that’s controlled with your voice. It’s called Echo, and Amazon tells The Verge it will be “shipping in the coming weeks.” Available on an invite-only basis to start, Echo is regularly priced at $199. But for a limited time, Amazon will offer Echo for $99 to Prime members who receive an invite. Amazon says the black, cylindrical speaker is always connected to the cloud and will provide information, music, news, weather, and more whenever you ask for it. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from Google — only it’s an Amazon product.
The built-in voice recognition can hear users from across the room, according to Amazon, essentially acting as a Siri-like personal assistant crammed inside a speaker. It listens to user requests using seven microphones and can understand your voice even while playing music. “These sensors use beam-forming technology to hear you from any direction,” reads the product’s page.
The speaker also produces 360-degree audio to fill an entire room. It’ll play music from Amazon Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn Plus. And it’s fully Bluetooth compatible, making playback from Spotify, Pandora, and other audio apps possible. Companion smartphone apps on Android and Fire OS will launch upon availability to help buyers set up and get started with the speaker, but everyone else (including iOS users) will need to access it via a web app. Amazon tells The Verge that a dedicated iOS app is in the works.
Users start the speaker up saying the wake up word, “Alexa”.They can then feed Amazon Echo commands or questions or, if they want, wirelessly stream music web services such as Spotify, iTunes and Pandora via their mobiles.
Amazon Echo is priced at $199, or $99 for members for the online retail giant’s Amazon Prime loyalty scheme. It is available on an invitation-only basis in coming weeks.
Amazon has had an unusually busy year, developing a mobile phone, video productions and grocery deliveries.Last month, the company forecast sales for the crucial holiday quarter that disappointed Wall Street and investors who are eager to see Amazon curtail its ambitions and start delivering sustainable profits.