The Amazon Echo has become somewhat of a hit success, with many users preferring Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to Apple’s Siri because of faster speech recognition speed, reliability and overall better performance. Amazon is continuing to compete in the voice assistant space with the release of two new products today: the Amazon Tap and Echo Dot.
The new products focus on expanding Amazon’s voice assistant into more rooms of your house as well as on-the-go. It’s an interesting strategy to make Alexa-dedicated devices, whereas Apple currently offers Siri only as a feature of its existing iOS, Apple Watch and Apple TV products.
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While the original Amazon Echo was meant to be set down in a room and left alone, the Amazon Tap ($129.99) is a portable Bluetooth speaker with Echo capabilities built-in thanks to the inclusion of Wi-Fi. As well as being a feature-rich Bluetooth speaker for music playback with high-quality sound, you can connect the device to a network to unlock its voice assistant features a la Siri.
Like Apple Music + Siri, Alexa can intelligently respond to requests like ‘Play Jazz’ or ‘Shuffle my Bruno Mars music’ as well as answer question about the news, weather and more. Interestingly, Alexa can also integrate with third-party apps to make them voice-enabled too. This means the Amazon Tap can control a whole host of music sources like iHeartRadio, Pandora or Spotify. This is a big win over Siri, where third-party app integration is notably lacking.
The Amazon Echo Dot costs $89.99 is currently only available to Prime Members who own an Echo or Amazon Fire TV. The Dot is a small puck device that helps extend the voice recognition range of the Amazon Echo to new rooms in the house, kind of like using an Apple AirPort Express to extend the range of a Wi-Fi network. It connects to existing speakers in your house to reply and stream music, although it does have a small internal speaker for things like timers. In general, it should be thought of as a satellite microphone for the Alexa device already in your home.
The Echo Dot is available from today, and the Tap is officially on sale from March 31st. Preorders start today, however.