Let’s take a look at all of the devices and services that Amazon has announced today!
Firstly, we’ve got Dave Limp talking about Privacy. He’s the head of hardware at Amazon.
The Wake Word Engine that listens for “Alexa” has become 50% more accurate over the past year, to prevent false wakes and recordings. Certainly good news.
In an effort to continue the companies stance on privacy, there is now an Auto Delete function, which can delete all recordings after 3 or 18 months.
You can now also ask Alexa, “why did you do that?”. For example if music starts playing, it will then tell you that someone requested Spotify to play an artist or something.
New Echo Dot with clock
The new Echo Dot now has an LED clock around its base. Apparently people ask Alexa what time it is over a billion times a year. So now if you keep an Echo Dot on your bedside table, you can just look over, no need to ask Alexa.
It’s available for pre order today for $59.99, though the regular Echo Dot is also still available.
Starting in the US with Spanish and English, Canada with French and English, and India with Hindi and English, Alexa can understand you in either language combination, which is great for multilingual households.
Improved Alexa Voice
Alexa will use a Neural Text to Speech engine that will make it sound more human, similar to what Apple did with Siri. These are slight changes, but will develop over time to be better and better.
Alexa can now also imitate certain celebrity voices. First up is Samuel L. Jackson, which also has an explicit mode.
These voices will cost 99 cents in the future. Very interesting revenue idea, but I suppose there is a novelty in having Samuel L. Jackson tell you the forecast.
Apparently Alexa can also detect when you’re frustrated with her. I know I certainly swear at her when she gets things wrong. I wonder how this will actually change. She does apologize now, so maybe it’ll teach us all to be kinder to our future AI overlords.
All New Echo
Similar design as before, all cloth wrapped. Now with 2 additional colors; blue and what looks like pinkish sand.
Features new drivers from the Echo Plus. Available for pre order today for $99
Echo Guest Connect
Guests at your home can now connect their Amazon services to your Echo if they want to play their own music or something. I can imagine this being useful if you rent out with AirBnB or something
This will be Amazon’s take on the HomePod or Sonos type devices. Heavily focused on audio quality, with 3D Audio and Dolby Atmos support.
It also tunes its sound to the room, similar to the HomePod and Sonos, for optimal sound.
Three midrange speakers: left, right, and top. Directional tweeter in front. 5.25-inch bass on the bottom with a bass port.
It looks like a fat squat Echo, about the size of a small pumpkin.
You can pair two of them and an Echo Sub to create a surround sound with your Fire TV.
Pre orders will also start today for $199.99. This is a decent undercut to a Sonos setup.
Alexa Smart Screen SDK 2.0
Better Alexa integration on third party devices like the Facebook Portal, Sony TV’s, etc. It also means more advanced visual features. Don’t be surprised in a year when every TV you buy will have Alexa baked into it.
Echo Show 8
Just like the Echo Show 5 from earlier this year, but now with an 8″ screen.
It has the better audio hardware from the 10″ Echo Show, but with the privacy slider from the 5″ Echo Show 5. Seems like a great middle child in the lineup.
Only $129, and available for pre order today, just like everything else.
I’m envisioning a setup where the 10″ Echo Show lives in your Kitchen. The Echo Show 8 lives in your home office and the Echo Show 5 lives on your bedside table. I’ve mentioned in my review of the Echo Show 5 that it’s nice in the home office, but perhaps just a tiny bit too small and not quite great audio.
This makes Google’s Nest Hub lineup seem a bit overpriced and somewhat lackluster. We’ll see if they have any responses in their event next month.
Amazon is really pushing the recipe and cooking narrative with the Echo Show devices.
They’ve partnered with Discovery and Food Network to launch a new service for recipes. Alexa is now the Food Network’s exclusive voice service.
My experience with recipes on Alexa has been… ok at best. Maybe I’m just an old soul but I like to just follow a printed out recipe.
The video instructions are pretty cool though, if you want some detailed help with recipes.
Drop In on All
The expansion of the Drop In feature, where it will open a group audio/video chat with all of your Echo devices. I honestly do not know how to feel about this.
I suppose it’s a quick way to check in on your whole house?
Alexa Communication for Kids
It’s like a way of making sure Kids are only talking to people that the parents approve. (like their friends that also have an Echo Dot in their room). Both sets of parents need to approve before the feature is active.
FreeTime on Echo Show is Amazon’s kid-focused group of apps, like Trivial Pursuit, various songs, etc.
It’s like a tiny glowing lamp. You can tap on it and it will cycle through its colors. Only $29.99, so I’m sure they will sell a ton during the holidays.
Perhaps they’re trying to get into the smart lights game, and this is the first step.
Certified for Humans
Amazon wants to make setting up a smart home easier (thank you), so they are certifying their gadgets to be “struggle free”. It’s true that sometimes setting up a WiFi plug or button can be a massive pain.
Smart homes are still pretty niche for techy enthusiasts, so with hopefully simpler setup procedures we’ll see more competitive products and higher quality products all around.
The certification is launching with smart lights, plugs, and appliances. It needs to be easy to set up, have OTA updates automatically, and doesn’t need its own app to setup.
All new Eero wireless router. Setup in only 10 minutes (they’re really going for simplicity here aren’t they).
Dual Band radio, adaptive backhaul, Mesh WiFi coverage, and eero Secure and eero Secure + features.
Alexa can control WiFi
You can now request Alexa to turn on or off WiFi to specific devices. For example you can turn off WiFi to your childs Fire tablet if it’s past bedtime.
It can also setup guest networks if you have guests over and you don’t want them mucking about with your WiFi.
It works with eero of course, but they’re also made an API so that other manufacturers can include it in their router software.
Alexa Hunches was announced at the same event last year, but the rollout has been pretty much non-existent. I haven’t noticed her do anything that would suggest that it worked.
They have expanded what Alexa is capable of having a hunch on, for example it will tell you if one of your smart home devices is behaving irregularly or wrong.
Alexa is more conversational in context
So Alexa can now use context to be conversational. For example if someone rings your Ring doorbell, she can say “Can you leave the package” or “Please leave a message”. We are one step away from the Jetsons future people.
This will most likely just be in the Elite doorbells, that are constantly powered, but we will have to wait and see.
This was also announced last year. You can turn your Echo into a defacto security device by activating Guard Mode. It will listen for fire alarms or broken windows and alert you if anything strange happens in your home.
Before you had to manually enable it, which seemed silly. But now it can be set up with your routines which is great.
Weird Flex but ok. It’s a small Echo you plug into the wall outlet. It has a small speaker and two buttons, as well as a USB port to charge things.
It can also be tied into accessories like motion sensor and night light.
This essentially gives Alexa access points to every room without having a dedicated Echo device there. I’m not sure how this differs from just having an Echo Dot, but I will update when there’s more information.
Ring Retrofit Alarm Kit
This kit allows you to use Ring with your house’s existing alarm system.
$199 or $375 when bundled with the Ring Alarm Hub.
Ring Stick Up Cam
1080p, motion detection and night vision security camera that you can place anywhere. It even has a solar accessory so you never need to worry about charging it.
It’s available today for $99.99.
Ring Indoor Cam
Small cylindrical camera for inside your home. Only $59.99, also available today. It supports Home Mode, meaning it wont record and audio and video when you are home.
Alexa Smart Oven
Your smart oven has convection cooking, an air fryer and a food warmer. And it has Alexa so you can control it remotely. It sounds cool but I fall in the camp of, if it can burn down my house, let’s not automate it.
It can scan to cook hundreds of pre packaged foods, which is actually pretty decent.
Also preorders up today, for $249.99, and it even comes with an Echo Dot.
Apparently Amazon is also launching a new 900Mhz spectrum low bandwidth network.
Apparently this will be great for controlling low-cost smart home devices. I’m not sure we need another wireless protocol, but maybe we do.
It’s a pet tracker by Amazon. It will alert you when your pet leaves a certain geofence. Supposedly it will be able to track them even further.
Small completely wireless in ear headphones. They look like they fit snugly in your ear like the Sony WH-1000s, unlike the AirPods.
They use noise reduction technology from Bose to isolate noise even better. You can double tap the earbud to turn it on and off.
It has 5 hours of battery, or 20 with the charging case.
You can also tap and hold to use the native voice search from your phone (Siri or Google Assistant). Or you can use the Alexa wake word as well.
Only $129, pre order up today, and will ship in time for the holidays.
Amazon is going very aggressively with their pricing.
Amazon Day1 Editions
Things that Amazon wants to release but isn’t quite ready for the mass market.
You can now get Amazon glasses, with prescription as well. Lightweight at 31grams. But now camera or display.
There are discrete speakers directed right at your ears, so that you can interact with Alexa but without anyone else hearing or listening.
You can turn off the microphone as well, and there’s a notification filter allowing you to pick and choose which notifications your receive.
$179.99, with limited quantities and invite only.
A titanium frame ring, with two microphones that are activated by a button on the bottom. It is chunky. It has a haptic engine to vibrate when you receive a notification.
These Day1 devices are essentially like public beta hardware devices from Amazon.
$129.99, also limited quantities and invite only.
And thats it! 15 new hardware devices, including glasses and a ring.
The next few months will be quite busy reviewing all these devices, so stay tuned for that!