The towering design of the original Amazon Echo speakers is over as Amazon unveils a new line with a softer, spherical shape.
Announced last night at the company’s virtual devices launch, the new Echo is a combination of the original Echo and Echo Plus speakers in a new spherical body. A bright LED light right at the base of the sphere will reflect off surfaces for added visibility, whilst the sound has been upgraded too to add Dolby processing for immersive sound.
The Echo Dot has also undergone this transformation. Amazon’s best-selling smart speaker now looks like a compact ball that will look cute on a nightstand or counter.
The tap-to-snooze feature for an alarm that has been a signature of the Echo Dot with clock version has been added to the normal Echo and Echo Dot.
Thanks in part to a rise in video calling, Amazon is doubling down on its Echo Show range, which adds a screen to the smart speaker line.
The new Echo Show 10 has a 10-inch adapted HD display which can rotate around the room as your move. An upgraded 13MP camera will pan and zoom to keep you at the centre of video calls with family, a feature that can also be found on the Facebook Portal range. You’ll soon be able to watch Netflix on the Echo Show too.
All the new Echo devices are designed with 100 per cent recycled fabric and aluminium as part of the company’s sustainability pledge, along with a new low power mode to reduce the energy consumption of the devices inside a customer’s home.
The Echo may have a new look but it’s the brains inside that count and Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa has a new processor which will make it up to twice as fast when it comes to speech processing. When it comes down to interacting with devices using voice, Amazon’s VP of Echo Miriam Daniel stressed that “miliseconds matter” and this new upgrade to Alexa should help make that possible.
As well, Alexa can learn from interaction cues when she does something wrong and will be able to autocorrect those errors. This is part of Amazon’s work in advancements in conversational AI, which in turn are part of the tech giant’s vision of ambient computing. This is the idea that tech is always accessible to you, so much so that you don’t even realise it’s there.
“People don’t need to learn about it or think about modality, there’s no sense of apps, it all seamlessly works,” explained Amazon’s senior VP of devices and services Dave Limp. “We’ve done that with Alexa. Alexa can show you things, it’s not a screen that’s pushy in your life but fades into the background.”
Prices for the new Echo collection will start from £49.99. Pre-orders are available now for the Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock, and Echo from Amazon and Argos. You’ll have to sign up to be notified when the new Echo Show 10 is available