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Amazon announces voice-controlled Echo speaker

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Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo moves voice assistants from mobile devices to a dedicated speaker

Amazon has announced a brand new piece of hardware, which aims to replicate the functionality of voice-controlled personal assistants like Siri and Google Now, in the form of a small, standalone speaker.

The Amazon Echo, which costs $199 (around £125), is an interesting home-centric, cylindrical speaker which allows users to call out commands using a custom “wake world.”

For example, the cloud connected, Wi-Fi speaker can play music from Amazon Prime, it can search the web to answer questions, get daily news updates from NPR and can be used to set alarms, add items to shopping lists or get the weather forecast.

Users can issue commands like “Add make hotel reservations to my to do list,” while asking “Will it rain tomorrow?”

Echo purchasers will also be able to beam music from apps like Amazon Prime, iHeartRadio, Spotify and Rdio from their smartphone to the Echo speaker using the build-in Bluetooth connectivity.

Amazon claims the Echo speaker, which has 7 microphones, can be placed anywhere in the room thanks to the “far-field voice recognition technology” enabling owners to speak normally from anywhere in the room.

The plug-in speaker It is also able to hear commands, even when it is playing music, while it'll also leans to recognise the owner’s voice, speech patterns and vocabulary.

Naturally, there’s an Amazon Echo App to tie the experience together, which is available to download on Fire OS and Android devices, as well as desktop and iOS browsers. This will able users to manage alarms, music, shopping lists and more.

The Amazon Echo is invite only for now, but Prime subscribers in the US can request an invitation and snag one of the devices for a half-price $99 (around £60).

There’s no word yet on a potential UK launch, but given previous form, we wouldn’t expect this until well into 2015.

Read more: Amazon Fire Phone review

Prem Desai

November 7, 2014, 10:00 am

Looks interesting. Would like to see a full review before deciding if it's only a toy whose novelty will wear off in a few days or if it can actually add real value ...

HowdyNSA

November 10, 2014, 2:33 am

Would you believe this place trashed the original article URL for this story and replaced it with this new one because of the comment below?

"I have a question.

If I am in the room that has the echo device and I decide to get frisky, what happens when this device hears me saying "Hey baby. You know I want to blank your blank. Oh ya baby. Your blank feels sooooo good".

Do all of those statements get sent to Amazon and stored on a computer somewhere that any Amazon employee or any government person with a link to Amazon computer networks can hear it?

Will the device begin trying to sell products for my wife's blank to us?

Will the device tell anyone who is looking into statistics that the man at address XYZ Normal Street really likes the blank, and likes to blank the blank in the living room?

Will the device begin advertising anti-conception products or perhaps baby products when it hears me talking about how much I blank my wife's blank?

Can all of those statements I am making about my wife's blank be taken from the Amazon system and posted online where people can listen to them and then ridicule my wife and I or maybe applaud my wife and I?

Or will Amazon begin providing suggestions for massage parlors and escort services after it hears me talk about blanking my wife's blank constantly over a few months?

I am really curious."

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