29 November, 2016
The company is said to be upgrading Echo for two reasons: to capitalize on the device's success, and as early preparation to "fend off competition" from Google Home and Apple's rumored entry into the smart home speaker market (via Bloomberg).
The current Echo range relies exclusively on voice activation for operation, but the addition of a screen would add a further element of functionality to the popular device. An Amazon spokesperson just told us that Amazon is not surprisingly on track to the best Cyber Monday in the retailer's history. This will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news, the people said. Citing one source, Gurman reports that high-grade speakers in the new product "will make the gadget sound much better than current Echo devices".
Amazon is also said to be testing a feature that will allow users to pin photos and other items to the new touchscreen. The device will also be larger, and tilt upwards so the screen is visible when it's sitting on a counter and the user is standing.
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The latest news follows a Wall Street Journal report ealier in the year which claimed Amazon was working on a tablet style device powered by Alexa. It shouldn't be surprising, then, to hear that the new device will reportedly use an "optimized version" of Fire OS, Amazon's operating system for those tablets.
If the report is true, this could be a sign that Amazon is inching toward that sci-fi reality where everything you do in your home - from watching TV to shopping for toilet paper - can be accomplished by speaking to one device that's connected to everything. Name recognition has probably help to bolster this acceptance - with Google and Apple recently releasing their own voice-enabled devices.Amazon Echo's attractive price point doesn't hurt either.
Let us know what you think of the report in the comments.