Amazon’s Echo AI speaker goes on general sale today, after seven months of exclusivity, bringing the intriguing voice assistant to our homes. But Amazon has no plans currently to sell the Echo AI through Amazon.co.uk so you’ll need to import.
Back in November of last year, Amazon announced the launch of Echo, a standalone version of voice assistants like Siri or Cortana. Echo can be placed anywhere in your home, listening for instructions and linking up with your smartphone via a companion app.
Echo went on a limited sale straight out of the traps, with selected Prime subscribers chosen to test the device in the wild. Now the retail giant has announced that anyone will be able to buy the device from July 14th.
Amazon’s Echo works a lot like its counterparts, woken with a keyword before listening for instructions, such as web search requests and setting alarms and reminders. The device is about the same size and shape as a can of deodorant and doesn’t cost the earth either – in fact, it retails for just $179.99 (£114), although a UK price (or release date) has yet to be confirmed.
Amazon’s assistant software goes by the name of ‘Alexa’ and with a few dedicated commands she will also play your music, give you the scores from your favourite sports teams and make a note of anything you need to buy.
Although Echo has huge potential, given the fact that it allows you to search the internet using your voice from absolutely anywhere (providing it has a Wi-Fi connection), some early adopters have found the technology a little underwhelming. A few have commented that they’ve barely used Echo as anything more than a very elaborate alarm clock, which we’re not too surprised by – after all, how often do you use your own smartphone’s voice assistant?
That said, it seems as though the general reception is good and it’s worth remembering that this is the company’s premier effort, so a few teething troubles are to be expected.
If we’re honest, we still feel a bit silly talking to our devices when a few simple taps of the screen will do just as nicely. However, perhaps the beauty of Echo is that it’s a home-based system which will allow us to get to grips with voice-controlled AI in the privacy of our own kitchen. Rather than in full view of the general public, where we inevitably look like someone who needs to be locked up.