Amazon’s Echo is now available to all, all, all, all
Remember Echo, Amazon’s Siri-in-a-tube which was first announced back in November, but until now has only been available on an invitation-only basis?
If the idea of getting hold of Jeff Bezos’ standalone virtual assistant appeals to you, today is your lucky day — as Echo is now available to all U.S. customers for $179.99 via Amazon.com.
Enabling you to access music, audiobooks, news, weather, traffic, sports updates, home automation technology and more, Echo is — like Siri and Google Now — controlled by users’ voices, although unlike either of those, it’s not simply an app for your smartphone.
Instead, Echo can sit comfortably in the center of your room, like a miniature version of 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s black monolith — using seven microphones and far-field voice recognition technology to hear your words even when they’re spoken from a distance or over music.
“Since launch, we have added streaming music from Pandora, audiobooks from Audible, calendar access, live sports scores and schedules, traffic reports, Amazon.com re-ordering, control of connected devices such as lights and switches from WeMo and Philips Hue, and more,” says Jeff Bezos. “Many of these features are a result of feedback and suggestions from our customers — thank you.”
So far, the Echo has received 18,927 user reviews on Amazon’s website, with an overall rating of 4.5/5. “The Echo has become the most used appliance in our home,” reads one positive review, while another (possibly tongue-in-cheek entry) is titled “Alexa, my love. Thy name is inflexible, but thou art otherwise a nearly perfect spouse.”
After the epic flop that was the Fire Phone, it’s nice to see Amazon get a technology so apparently right!