Amazon has been extending its hardware offerings quite a bit lately, going from e-readers to tablets to smartphones to streaming devices, and today the company’s hardware effort is growing once again.
Amazon Echo is a new device that’s designed to give you information when you ask for it, sort of like Apple and Microsoft’s digital assistants. The Echo’s only purpose is to give you info related to things like the weather, setting alarms, playing music and looking up details like “When is Thanksgiving?” The device will wake up whenever it hears the word “Alexa.”
The Amazon Echo is a tall, cylindrical object that has seven microphones, a “beam-forming technology” and noise cancellation so that it can hear you from any direction. It’s also got a pair of downward-facing speakers that can play omni-directional sound, playing tunes from Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeart Radio and TuneIn. And because it’s got Bluetooth, you can also stream your music from your phone or tablet.
Amazon also says that the Echo runs on Amazon Web Services and that it’ll always learn about your speech patterns and personal preferences. Additionally, Amazon can add features to Echo over time.
Finally, Amazon is also prepping an Amazon Echo app for Fire OS, Android, the web and iOS browsers. The app will allow you to manage your alarms, music, to-do lists and more when you’re away from the Echo itself.
Amazon Echo will cost $199, but Amazon Prime members can buy the Echo for $99 for a “limited time.” Amazon is currently taking requests for invitations to buy the Echo, saying that if you’re selected, you’ll receive an invitation sometime “in the coming weeks.”