Amazon will officially launch Echo to the public next month. Echo is a voice-activated speaker that works similarly to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana as it uses speech-recognition software. The key difference is that it uses Amazon’s Alexa software, which is not featured in any smartphone as of yet.

Amazon Echo Now Available To Everyone

Amazon’s Echo features similar to smartphones

Echo was designed to work as a central hub for the home. It can turn on lamps with a Belkin WeMo light switch or it can play music from radio apps like iHeartRadio or Pandora. It also makes ordering new supplies and items (from Amazon of course) a breeze. The device can be left on at all times, and when the user wants to activate Alexa, they have to say her name and then ask her to complete a task.

Since many of the features found in Echo are also found in many smartphones, only time will tell if people are willing to spend more money on a separate device. Gartner analyst David Mitchell Smith explained:

“My sense is there’s significant demand for it. It’s not one of those top-grossing consumer products, but it certainly something consumers want.”

Echo’s key selling point

Smith believes Alexa could be the big drawing point for Echo. It is also a platform that could eventually become available on other devices, including smartphones and televisions. Amazon added a voice recognition feature to its Fire TV box as well.

Amazon Echo will retail for $179.99. The device is available for preorder today, and it will ship in mid-July. The device was initially limited by invitation only to Amazon Prime owners who could purchase the device for just $99. Unfortunately, that price cut is no longer available and anyone interested in the device will have to pay full price.

Amazon wants to bring smart technology to the home, and the Amazon Echo brings that experience to the heart of the house.