Is A Video Phone On Your Tech Wish List?

The new Amazon Echo, now with a 7-inch touchscreen, could be officially announced as early as this morning (Tuesday May 9th, 2017) according to The Wall Street Journal. The device will support video calling as its new premier feature in addition to Alexa’s current plethora of “skills” and compatibility with smart home gadgets and popular services. It will also be able to place phone calls in a manner similar to Microsoft’s Skype.

The Wall Street Journal believes that Amazon will price its latest Echo at more than $200. The regular Echo speaker, first introduced in late 2014, currently sells for $149, with the Echo Tap and Echo Dot devices beneath it at lower price points. Amazon’s employees have been testing the new product for several months, and it’s expected to ship sometime in June. Images of the device first surfaced on Friday.

Calling features in the new Echo could be rolled out “in stages,” the report notes. Amazon is said to be experimenting with intercom capabilities between the various Echo products in a consumer’s home, for example. That would partially mimic the functionality of some third-party products like the Nucleus, which also supports Amazon’s Alexa platform. Recode previously reported on Amazon’s plans to turn the Echo into a phone.

Amazon’s flagship Echo is also likely to support “at least some” of the features offered by the Echo Look, a camera that can help users make fashion and outfit choices with the assistance of artificial intelligence. That product is currently available on an invite-only basis, whereas this new Echo will undoubtedly see a huge marketing push by Amazon. You can put an Echo speaker in every room of your house, but this is going to be the experience’s centerpiece. As Amazon’s tech rivals including Google and Apple try to play catchup at building a voice-controlled speaker “assistant,” the company is already moving on to the next piece of its Alexa strategy.

It’s been rumored for a while now that Amazon is working on a touchscreen version of the Echo speaker, and today we’re finally getting some evidence and a sense of what it might look like.


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