Amazon has finally brought its voice-controlled smart speaker to the UK after it first launched in the US more than two years ago. The speaker will land on 28 September, with pre-orders going live later today. The cylindrical speaker, which is also coming to Germany, uses Amazon's personal voice assistant called Alexa, which is similar to Apple's Siri. The Echo will cost 149.99 ( 179.99) and will also be available for Prime customers at a reduced rate of 99 ( 129.99) for a limited time. The cylindrical speaker, which is also coming to Germany, uses Amazon's personal voice assistant called Alexa, which is similar to Apple's Siri Amazon Echo is a voice-controlled smart speaker that works alongside a smartphone app.
This photo provided by Amazon shows models of the Amazon Echo Show. Amazon is giving its voice-enabled Echo speaker a touch screen and video-calling capabilities as it competes with Google's efforts at bringing "smarts" to the home. The new device, called Echo Show, goes on sale on June 28, 2017. Amazon says it's also bringing calling and messaging features to its existing Echo and Echo Dot devices and the Alexa app for phones.
It appears a lot more Americans are getting acquainted with Alexa. The Echo is the best way to add Alexa to your life, and you can get access to all sorts of Alexa-exclusive deals once you have one. The number of Americans using voice-enabled speakers like Amazon Echo at least once a month more than doubled from last year, says a forecast from research firm eMarketer. More than one-quarter of smartphone owners in the U.S., 60.5 million Americans, will use a virtual assistant like Alexa, Apple's Siri, or Microsoft's Cortana at least once a month. "Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology, which is driving engagement," said Martín Utreras, eMarketer's vice president of forecasting, in a statement.
Amazon is reportedly working on a new feature for its Alexa voice assistant that would allow for individual voice recognition, according to a report from Time. In other words, your Echo would theoretically be able to tell voices apart and figure out who is actually talking to it. According to Time, the feature is internally known as "Voice ID" and has been in development since summer 2015. The report claims that Voice ID would allow certain commands to be locked to a specific voice -- for example, only allowing the account holder to purchase things off Amazon (something that's certainly been an issue in the past). Alexa actually already supports multiple user profiles and PIN verification for purchases, but automating the process through voice recognition would certainly make it easier to take advantage of those features.
Spotify is experimenting with a voice-control interface, looking to free itself from reliance on Siri and Alexa and pave the way for the company's forthcoming smart speaker. Users of the service have spotted the new feature hiding in the search bar of Spotify's iOS app. After tapping the magnifying glass to search for a track or playlist, testers see a microphone icon inside a white bubble, according to the Verge. After users tap on the icon, Spotify suggests a number of typical requests for a voice-controlled music system: "Show Calvin Harris", "Play my Discover Weekly" and "Play some upbeat pop", for instance. The move comes as Spotify ramps up its efforts to build a smart speaker to challenge Apple, Amazon and Google in the hardware field, all of which have their own music services.