Amazon’s Echo is due an upgrade and we’re expecting it to be unveiled today! Needless to say, we’re all waiting with bated breath to see what features Amazon have added to their latest digital assistant.
Amazon are in a strong position right now when it comes to voice assistants. In 2015, the Echo was pitched as an alternative to smartphones and computers at home and it’s safe to say it is this product that has dominated the digital assistant market. The Echo now accounts for over 70% of all digital assistant use in the US, which must be a kick in the teeth for second place Google with their below-par Google Home. In such a new market, it’s important for tech companies to get an early lead so consumers will look to them when connected homes become the norm, and Amazon are certainly ensuring this is the case.
Reports by AFTV show a blurry, low-quality image of the new device, along with its new name, the Echo Show, an image which has understandably got the techies talking. The leak has also revealed a price of around $229.99, a jump from the current $180 Echo. But, if the rumours of new features are true, we can’t see users having too much of a problem with the price increase.
The most obvious new feature visible on the leaked image is the 7-inch touchscreen, a feature which could help solve a range of problems and limitations that users have with their current voice assistants. With the touch screen, users can easily glance at the time or see how long their timer has left, without having to ask directly.
Another rumoured feature is a webcam, which many say signifies a step towards the recently announced Echo Look, an assistant which snaps a photo of you in the morning and uses a Style Check algorithm to tell you how well put together your outfit is. Not entirely convinced by this product? Great, us neither. But while the Echo Show may also offer this oddly judgemental feature, we are expecting the webcam to provide users with far more, such as internet-based video calls.
This screen and webcam will open up a whole new range of interactions for users and the step towards blending a tablet-like interface with digital assistants and connected homes is something we think we will see more of in the future.
It’s safe to say there’s been a mixed bag when it comes to the reaction to the leaked images. Many praised a device that actually seems to solve the problems with previous models, a welcome experience in a world of missing headphone jacks and Donald Trumps.
Others however, were sceptical, claiming the device looks dated. Whatever the response however, the addition of a screen may mean app developers need to change some of their practises, developing visual interfaces to meet the demands of the touch screen, as well as voice activation.
So the battle of the tech giants continues, with Apple, Google and Microsoft also seeking to dominate the voice assistant market. Amazon currently have an early lead, but there can be no denying that there is all to play for. Let’s see what the rest of today has in store.