One of the most innovative products to arrive in 2016 is Amazon’s Alexa-assisted smart-speaker, the Amazon Echo.
Along with its smaller counterpart, the Echo Dot, the device allows users to voice-request certain tasks and information from the Alexa virtual assistant, and now it seems Amazon could have further smart-speaker plans.
A new Bloomberg report claims the company is working on a ‘premium’ version of the Echo which is said to feature a 7-inch touchscreen.
Related: Amazon Echo review
The current Echo range relies solely on voice activation for operation, but the addition of a screen would add a further element of functionality to the popular device.
Citing “two people familiar with the matter”, the report claims the screen could show information such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news.
What’s more, the as yet unannounced device will apparently tilt upwards to make the screen more visible when sitting on a counter.
The Echo Dot
The latest news follows a Wall Street Journal report ealier in the year which claimed Amazon was working on a tablet style device powered by Alexa.
High-grade speakers are also set to feature on the new Echo, according to the sources, which will dramatically improve audio quality over the current Echo – one aspect of the current device that has been criticised.
And there’s more. Amazon is said to be preparing to announce the new device as soon as the first quarter of 2017, though there’s been no official word from the company at this point, so take the rumour with due caution.
Sales of the Amazon Echo have reportedly reached more than 5 million units since 2014, according to an estimate from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
Related: Amazon Echo Dot review
With Google’s rival, Google Home, already available in the states, and Apple reportedly planning a similar device, Amazon will be looking to differentiate itself from the competition and maintain the popularity of the Echo.
All of which lends credence to this latest report, which also claims the new Echo will use an ‘optimised version’ of the Fire OS used on the company’s Fire TV set-top box.
Amazon is also said to be testing a feature that will allow users to pin photos and other items to the new touchscreen.
And if you were worried that the unconfirmed device will replace current models, one of the sources told Bloomberg that the existing range will remain on-sale.
Again, none of this has been confirmed, but we’re expecting to hear more very soon so stay tuned.
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Let us know what you think of the report in the comments.