According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Amazon will unveil its new high-end Echo device with a touchscreen as early as tomorrow. While we saw the first images of the new device leak last week, this is the first we’ve heard regarding a release date…
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Today’s report explains that Amazon’s new Echo speaker will feature a 7-inch touchscreen, allowing users to see information such as “e-commerce search results in a more digestible fashion.” Furthermore, the device will reportedly allow users to make Internet-based phone calls, with Amazon’s goal being to make this new Echo device the “core to a home’s communications.”
Separately, the Seattle-based retailer is expected to announce a broader rollout of telephone services for Echo devices within the next few weeks, according to the people.
Calling capabilities may be rolled out in stages, one of the people said, for example starting as an intercom within the house between Echo devices, or between Echo owners. Because the capabilities are internet based, it isn’t expected to require a SIM card or other mobile phone technology.
Amazon also recently introduced the new Echo Look, which features a camera but no screen. The new screen-equipped Echo is said to offer many of the same features as the Look, including support for taking videos and photos of outfits and having them compared via algorithms.
As for price, Amazon’s new device is said to be positioned as its flagship Alexa assistant and thus will carry a price of more than $200. That puts it at slightly more than Amazon’s current Echo, which is available on sale for $149.99.
News of Amazon’s new screen-equipped virtual assistant comes as Apple is also expected to be working on a standalone Siri Speaker. It has been rumored that Apple’s Siri Speaker will carry a design similar to that of the trashcan Mac Pro while offering advanced acoustic performance, Siri, AirPlay, and integrated SoC similar to that iPhone 6 or iPhone 6S processors. Apple’s Siri Speaker could be unveiled as soon as WWDC next month.
Apple exec Phil Schiller also recently spoke on the voice-only assistant market during an interview, explaining that systems that lack a screen aren’t always useful. “My mother used to have a saying that if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all,” he stated regarding the current Amazon Echo and Google Home competition.
Does Amazon’s new Echo device look of interest to you or are you planning to hold out to see what Apple has up its sleeve? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.