Following the success of it smart speaker Echo, Amazon has released two new, more portable devices. The company has unveiled the Amazon Tap, a $130 portable version of the Amazon Echo, and Echo Dot, a more compact device that connects to your speaker that will cost you $90.
Amazon’s Alexa family – The smaller siblings
After successful feedback, debates and some refinements, Amazon has revealed two new additions to its Alexa family: the Echo Dot and the Amazon Tap. You can pre-order both today. The Amazon Tap is available on Amazon.com, however the Echo Dot is only available to buy if you order it using an Alexa-enabled device.
Along with these two devices, Amazon has revealed that it has made its devices compatible with smart thermostats provided by companies such as Nest and Honeywell.
Use your voice
Amazon senior vice president of devices David Limp announced that their original vision with the Echo was to construct a cloud-based computer controlled by your voice. Their belief is that your voice is the next big platform. Soon you will be able to turn on your music, order a taxi and turn up the heating just like Captain Kirk in Star Trek.
Although the Echo was received with extremely high praise, some were left wanting more. The Tap was inaugurated because of the consumers’ need for a more portable version of the Echo. Amazon listened. Costing $130, the Amazon Tap weighs in at a light 16.6 ounces, with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities, and boasts dual stereo 360-degree speakers. It, of course, has the same Alexa voice command features you find with the Amazon Echo.
Its battery life lasts 9 hours with continuous playback, or 3 weeks on standby. The device also comes with a charging stand, allowing you to recharge while on the road. It has a simple interface, allowing you to turn it on by pressing the Echo Go button and using the Alexa app to connect to the internet.
Small but mighty
Resembling a hockey puck, the Echo Dot is much lighter and more portable than both of its bigger siblings. Even though it is smaller and cheaper at $90, it still has a variety of features that the Echo possesses. It can comprehend voice commands from up to 25 feet away even in noisy conditions and can extend the voice recognition range of the Amazon Echo to more rooms in your house.
The Echo Dot is compact and easy to move around. The device’s measurements (1.5-inches x 3.27-inches x 3.27-inches) and its line out connector mean that it will be popular with users who want to use their own speaker system.The Dot can also be used as as alarm clock, to control thermostats, lights and other paired devices.
Limp added that the only way that you could order the Echo Dot is through an Alexa-enabled device such as the Echo, Amazon Tap or FireTV. Although there is no limit to how many Echo Dots you can have connected, Amazon has announced that for the time being they only have a limited quantity available. The shipping of the Tap and the Echo Dot will begin at the end of March.
Are you listening?
After users raised concerns about the device possibly acting as a “microphone in the home”, the company constructed these devices so that its listening function can be disabled using the mute button. Also, a blue light ring appears to let you know when it’s all ears.
However, if the device isn’t listening all the time, then how do you tell it to do something? Amazon maneuvered around this obstacle by developing the device to recognize a “wake word”, which can be any command the user desires.
New tools for developers
Thanks to the users’ feedback, Amazon has also announced that it would introduce two additional tools to increase the speed of its development. One of the focal points was on the smart home, developing an application to control light bulbs around the house. The other focused on a skills-based application that was supported by Alexa to control thermostats, which currently supports Insteon, Nest and Honeywell.
Alexa was limited to just 13 abilities when it was launched, such as playing music, setting alarms and telling you the weather. However, since the device was opened to third-party developers, the list of skills that Alexa has has grown exponentially. There are now 303 third-party skills that are available to Alexa.
Amazon announced that it will be constantly trying to improve Alexa. It aims to accomplish this through constant feedback from its consumers and through the addition of new skills and involving other third-party devices.