Amazon Echo: The smart home assistant is now on sale

Amazon is now selling its voice-controlled Echo personal assistant to anybody that wants it.

The online retail giant first announced the AI-toting wireless speaker in November last year, but it wasn’t freely available for purchase.

Instead, customers could register their interest, which offered a chance of receiving an invite to buy the Echo from Amazon.

Amazon has now opened up purchases for everyone, making it easier to get your hands on the company’s sci-fi companion.

But what exactly is Amazon Echo? It’s sort of like Siri or Cortana, except it’s built into a speaker instead of your smartphone.

It functions normally as a Bluetooth speaker, but it can also respond to voice commands, including answering questions, and ordering Amazon products.

The AI companion is called Alexa, and has improved significantly since the device was first announced.

It can now act as a hub for your smart home, work with various music streaming platforms, and even offers support for IFTTT – that’s the web service that lets you link actions on apps like Facebook and Instagram with conditional statements.

Amazon claims it has also improved the voice recognition and accuracy since the product’s launch.

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The Echo is another example of Amazon’s push towards retail in the home, just like this year’s announcement of the Dash Buttons.

It’s a sensible move from the e-commerce firm, as many major tech firms are now also jumping on the smart home bandwagon, including Apple, Google, and Samsung.

The speaker is only available to buy outright in the US at present, with a price of $179.99 (£115), and will begin shipping on July 14.

If you’re interested in more prosaic Amazon fare, check out our video review of the Amazon Kindle Voyage:

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