After what feels like one of the longest release delays in history, the Amazon Echo is finally coming to the UK – some two years after the device was launched in the US.
The Amazon Echo works by always being connected to your home Wi-Fi – and listening to you, thanks to its seven mics – acting like a fairly normal Bluetooth connected speaker with one big difference: it’s voice activated and will act as your own personal voice assistant.
This is all thanks to Alexa – Amazon’s Siri rival. Alexa ‘learns’ the more you speak to it. It will adapt to your preference and even the cadence in your voice once you have used it for a while.
If you need an alarm setting, or a question answering, mutter the magic word – Alexa – and the speaker will wake and fulfil your needs.
Alexa, where can I find a warm pint and a ploughman’s?
If you fancy just using Amazon Echo as a speaker, then you’ll be pleased to read that it’s pretty well connected – offering up Prime Music, Spotify and other music streaming connectivity.
It has a 2.5-inch woofer inside, alongside a 2-inch tweeter, and the sound emanates 360 degrees from the device.
Using Alexa, you can also ask the device to play a song, album or just tell you if it’s going to rain tomorrow. As we are in the UK, the answer will pretty much always be: ‘probably’.
Given the Amazon Echo could well be the starting point for your connected home, there is a companion app where you can manage your music, help with setup etc. While you shouldn’t really need to use the app – as the Alexa AI should mean you can do most things with your voice – it’s good that it’s there for you if you need it.
To make sure that Alexa is in the best voice possible, Amazon has been rapidly expanding the ‘skills’ section of the Alexa app in the US.
This is essentially the app store for Alexa, where voice-activated apps are added. This all thanks to Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service APIs – developers can use these to add Alexa compatibility to their apps. And it sure is popular.
Currently there are 3,000 in US and there will be some UK specific ones. Sky Sports, the Telegraph, the Guardian and Spotify will be partners from Day One.
The Amazon Echo is out in the UK this Autumn – and there’s a new colour too. The Echo will be available in both black and white.