Amazon Echo is a crazy Bluetooth speaker with a built-in virtual assistant

Echo is a speaker that doesn't just play your music. Photo: Amazon

Echo is a speaker that doesn’t just play your music. Photo: Amazon

Amazon’s built a crazy Bluetooth speaker that wants to be a part of your family. It’s called Echo, and not only will it play your tunes, it has a built-in virtual assistant that will provide all kinds of information when you need it. It’ll even work for you by creating reminders, setting alarms, and more.

Echo takes a virtual assistant like Siri and makes it available outside of your smartphone or tablet. You can stick it anywhere in your home and its “far-field voice recognition,” combined with enhanced noise cancellation, will hear you from any direction. Echo will even hear your commands over the music it’s playing.

Echo has been designed to provide great audio. Photo: Amazon

Echo has been designed to provide great audio. Photo: Amazon

You can ask Echo for simple information like what the weather’s going to be like, when Thanksgiving is, and how to spell things. It will also read you news headlines; play specific artists, albums, or playlists; and add things to your shopping list. And it does it all without the use of any keys, buttons, or remotes — you just have to tell it what you want.

“Echo’s brain is in the cloud, running on Amazon Web Services so it continually learns and adds more functionality over time,” Amazon explains. “The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.”

Echo is a Bluetooth speaker at its core, and Amazon has fine-tuned it to deliver an enhanced audio experience. It boasts 360° omni-directional sound to fill your entire room, and it’ll play content from iHeartRadio, TuneIn, iTunes, Spotify, and of course, Amazon Prime Music via connected devices.

You’ll be able to pair it with your iPhone and iPad, as well as smartphones and tablets powered by Android and Amazon Fire OS.

Echo will be available “in the coming weeks,” Amazon says, and it’ll be priced at $199. If you’re a Prime subscriber, however, you’ll pay just $99 for a limited time. But here’s the catch: To get an Echo of your own, you’re going to need an invite. You can request one today via the Echo page below, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get one emailed to you.