When Amazon first launched the the Echo in late 2014, I was tempted to buy it. As a Prime member, I was able to purchase it for a mere $99. However, as somebody who typically likes to justify spending money in the first place, at the time I didn't feel like I really needed a glorified $99 Bluetooth speaker. I already had one at my disposal.
Admittedly, the Echo had a lot of features that set it apart from your typical Bluetooth speaker. You can control the Echo with your voice from pretty much anywhere in the room (thanks to its seven surrounding microphones), and since the Echo is connected to the cloud there were numerous resources for it to pull information from when you're curious about sports updates, the weather, or even if you just want to jam out to some tunes with Pandora or iHeartRadio. You could also dictate shopping lists and set timers.
Despite all of the cool things Echo could do, I still didn't feel like it was a good investment for me at the time. My phone could basically give me the same information for a few extra steps, but a lot less money. The other perks of Amazon’s Echo didn't tempt me much either. But as time goes on, Amazon’s Echo is quickly improving with more impressive and promising features. You can now order a pizza through Domino’s, play music from Spotify, and even order an Uber cab – all without needing your smartphone around. And all without having to upgrade the hardware, as these changes are all software related.
And although I'm not quite ready to pull the trigger yet, I have to admit that it is becoming more tempting. My phone can do all of these things and more, but the idea of being able to do these things hands free from anywhere in the room sounds like it would be extremely convenient. While I no longer user Spotify and I have yet to need an Uber ride anywhere, I do love pizza. And I have a sneaking suspicion that these three major companies pairing up with Amazon’s Echo is just the beginning of something much bigger.
With Amazon making Alexa (and the Echo) open end, developers have the ability to bring their services to Echo if they want to, and since some are taking advantage I imagine the ball will keep rolling. I'm loving all of these major companies supporting Echo. I've never really been enamored with the idea of a Smart Home before, but if the Echo continues heading in this direction in regards to supporting mainstream apps and services without the need for a smartphone then I think I might be investing in an Echo sometime here soon.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the Amazon Echo? What features or apps would you like to see supported? Let us know in the comments below!