Amazon aims to make Alexa assistant bigger part of users' lives

Amazon Smart Plug

All the three aforementioned new Echo devices - Echo Dot, Echo Plus, and Echo Sub - come with Amazon's smart voice assistant - Alexa and will let users to manually adjust the audio level as per their requirements by voice command.

The tech firm is to introduce redesigned versions of its Echo Dot, Echo Plus and Echo Show smart home speakers - all of which are powered by voice-activated, artificially intelligent assistant Alexa. But one of the most important improvements announced by Amazon earlier today is Skype calling, which is coming to Alexa very soon. On Thursday as part of Amazon's mass product unveiling, the company announced Echo Auto - a dongle that adds Echo functionality to your vehicle. For $299.99, the Echo Link Amp adds a 60W, 2-channel amplifier for directly connecting to bookshelf speakers. It will feature an improved speaker system alongside its 10-inch HD screen, which can be used to stream videos and make video calls.

My Echo Dot is sitting a mere two-feet away as I write this, and somehow, the light that usually blinks cheerfully every time I invoke "Alexa", appears to be a shade of rueful. What you can do is pair two Echo Dots to create a stereo setup that'll give you a more rounded listening experience.

What you get, exactly, is a portable Echo that uses a Bluetooth connection to your phone and an eight-microphone array to take requests via Alexa and can spit out songs, directions, your to-do list, a book from Audible and more. Thanks to its powerful speech recognition technology, Alexa is able to hear you over music, vehicle noises like the A/C and outside road noises. However, you have to be using either the new Echo Plus or the new Echo Show for this to work. Considered together, the Echo Dot and Home Mini account for well over a third of the total smart speaker shipments in the second quarter of 2018.

Amazon did not say when this feature will become generally available. Amazon claims it has higher quality speakers that can crank 70 percent louder.

Last year's Echo Plus is quite a bit taller than the new model, but more importantly it only comes in black as a colour option and the finish is that plasticky look we mentioned previously. The listing reveals the prices and the key features of the devices as well.

The new Echo Plus.

Amazon also demonstrated a new feature it calls Alexa Guard, which can recognise the sound of window glass breaking through connected home security devices and warn users of a potential break-in. These are the Echo Sub, Echo Input, Echo Link, Echo Link Amp and Echo Wall Clock.

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