Amazon’s Alexa Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smarter
A recent tech event revealed a ton of updates coming to the virtual assistant in the near future.
Published Sep 28, 2017 1:00 PM
When it’s not acquiring supermarkets or launching food delivery services, Amazon does a pretty good job at the thing that set it apart in the first place: technology. The commerce giant was one of the first to have a virtual assistant instruct you how to make a recipe or tell you the weather report with Amazon Echo—the speaker that first introduced “Alexa.” And now, Amazon is taking the technology even further: At a recent event, the company unveiled a whole slew of updates we can expect soon.
For starters, it’s giving the classic Echo a facelift with the Echo Plus. It comes out on October 31, and is $149.99 compared to the standard model’s $99.99. The price increase is merited, however, when you consider the fact that this newer version is a complete smart home hub. It can control your compatible smart lights, locks, and even garage doors—but more importantly, will let you use a blanket statement to accomplish multiple things at the same time.
For example, as The Verge reports, the command “Alexa, good morning” can be programmed to make your Echo Plus turn on the lights, open a window shade, feed you the weather report, and even command your tea kettle to boil water at the same time. In other words, busy weekday mornings are about to get a lot more efficient.
Amazon is also taking the Echo technology past its signature little cylinder. It announced the upcoming releases of the Echo Spot (a tech-y alarm clock that lets you do everything from make video calls to check your nursery camera), the Echo Connect (an accessory that syncs your contacts to allow you to make landline phone calls via Alexa), and Echo Buttons (“Alexa Gadgets” that can be used to play games). The Spot and Connect will be available just in time for the holidays (around mid-December), while the Buttons do not have a set launch date quite yet.
Also announced at the event? An update to the company’s 4K-supported Fire TV. The new model will be available on October 25, and includes tens of thousands of channels in ultra HDR video. Plus, at $69.99, it’s way more affordable than Apple TV.
But the most surprising news? Amazon Alexa is coming for your cars—specifically BMWs. Starting in 2018, the assistant will be integrated into the cars via microphones. This technology will allow drivers to use voice commands to ask for the news or the weather—haven’t you heard? Radio is very 2017—and even use third-party apps like Starbucks.