What is the Amazon Echo?
In 2018, companies are making all sorts of exciting products that fulfill a variety of needs. One of these companies is Amazon, and they make a compelling proposition with the Amazon Echo.
At first glance, the Amazon Echo looks like a traditional speaker. However, it does much more than that. The Amazon Echo is part of a new generation of speakers known as smart speakers. It plays music just like a traditional speaker as well as harnesses the power of Amazon's virtual assistant who goes by the name of Alexa. You can use the Amazon Echo to find out what the weather will be like today, create shopping lists, control other smart items in your homes such as lights and fans as well as do a lot more.
If you strip the Amazon Echo apart, you will find that it consists of two speakers with a bit of computer hardware. It can use Wi-Fi to connect to the internet as well as Bluetooth to connect to your phone.
The real power of Amazon Echo comes from its ability to access the internet. It can’t do a lot of it can’t access the internet. Without access to the internet, it becomes an overpriced Bluetooth speaker. When the Amazon Echo is connected to the internet, it uses built-in microphones to listen for a ‘wake word.’ By default, the wake word is set to Alexa. However, you can change it to Amazon or Echo if you’d like to.
Do I need a subscription to use the Amazon Echo?
As already mentioned, the Echo is powered by the internet. All you need a Wi-Fi connection, there is no subscription required. However, if you are a member of Amazon Prime, you will receive access to a lot of perks. One of the coolest perks you can take advantage of by having an Amazon Prime account is receiving a discount for Amazon Music Unlimited. You can then use the Amazon Echo to stream music through the service.
How much is the Amazon Echo?
There are a couple of different variants of the Amazon Echo. The cheapest option is the Amazon Echo Dot which costs $49. For $99, you can get the second-generation Echo. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can pay $149 for an Echo Plus which has a built-in smart home hub. You can also get an Echo Show for $229 which has a large rectangular display in addition to its powerful stereo speakers. All of the Echo devices are powered by Alexa and so regardless of which one you pick; you will receive access to a powerful and competent virtual assistant.
What is Alexa?
If you’ve watched Marvel’s Iron Man, you might have noticed that Tony Stark talks to a virtual assistant who goes by the name of Jarvis. Alexa is an attempt to bring virtual assistants to reality. Alexa lives inside the Echo, Amazon’s Fire TV as well as plenty of other smart devices. Alexa is a cloud service which performs many actions such as reading the news as well as checking movie times. You can also have a conversation with Alexa as she has some personality too.
What are Alexa Skills?
Alexa Skills are similar to apps which are created by Amazon as well as various third parties. These skills add functionality to Alexa. There are more than 30,000 skills available right now with more being added each day. Examples of Alexa Skills include but aren't limited to the ability to call an Uber, tune your guitar, play games and so on.
Amazon's Alexa can do plenty more than that and is a fantastic feat of technology. This technology and others like it are changing the way people live their lives. It's close to impossible to predict where technology will go from here.