Amazon has just launched a major new update for its voice-activated Echo speaker.
The Echo was announced in November of last year, but didn’t become freely available to US customers until June of this. Still, Amazon’s oddball device (which is essentially a Bluetooth speaker with a Siri-like personal assistant app built in) has improved dramatically in the intervening months.
This latest update looks to be another big step forward.
Undoubtedly the most useful-sounding part of this update, as pointed out by Engadget, involves the ability to ask the Echo to read you the latest news headlines. This won’t incorporate the stories themselves, but it sounds like a handy way to quickly digest the day’s biggest events while you’re going about your business.
Echo will now also tell you about the traffic conditions on your daily commute, once you’ve fed it the appropriate start and finish points. Handy.
Amazon has also provided greater control over Echo’s alarm and timer functions. You can now set up and manage multiple timers, making the Echo a great kitchen aid.
Echo now also has greater smart home functionality, with SmartThings Hub and Wink Hub support and new IFTTT triggers added to the voice-controlled mix.
Related: What is IFTTT?
Naturally, Amazon has made the Echo even better for ordering stuff from the Amazon website. Which, after all, is what each and every Amazon device is designed to facilitate.
If you’re interested in more prosaic Amazon fare, check out our video review of the Amazon Kindle Voyage: