Amazon launches voice-activated Echo device

Amazon launches voice-activated Echo device

Amazon has unveiled a new device called Amazon Echo, a voice-activated speaker unit which people can use to find information, play music, and create to-do lists.

The device can stream audio, presumed to include audiobooks, from services such as Amazon Music Library.

Customers can request an invitation to purchase the Echo, which will retail in the US at $199, or $99 for Amazon Prime members. Amazon said the Echo is "designed around your voice", and said: "It's always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, "Alexa." It's also an expertly-tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound."

The new device was met with surprise by technology media, who speculated on the potential future uses of the Echo. Techcrunch wrote: "It’s a personal assistant in a tube! But let’s be clear here on what this thing is beyond that — or what it will be. Amazon is not in the business of telling you whether or not it will rain tomorrow…Amazon is in the business of selling you things — and that is why Echo exists."

It adds: "For now, Echo’s shopping-centric functionality is limited to helping you add things to your shopping list. It won’t order them for you yet. It’ll just add them to a list for you to look at later. But if Echo sees any sort of success, just watch how fast that will change."

However, Gizmodo called it: "The most innovative device Amazon's made in years… If it works, it will be world wide web floating through your house, the internet made tangible and speakable and liveable."