Amazon working on touchscreen Echo speaker with higher-quality audio - report

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2016
Raising the bar even before Apple's rumored entry into the "smartspeaker" market, Amazon is at work on a new "Echo-like" model which will have a 7-inch touchscreen and high-end audio, a report said on Tuesday.

Amazon's current flagship Echo.
Amazon's current flagship Echo.


The touchscreen will make it easier to fetch content like news, calendars, and weather forecasts, two sources told Bloomberg. The speaker is also expected to be bigger, and tilt upwards, so that people can glance down at it while it's sitting on a counter.

It should run a version of Amazon's Fire OS -- based on Android -- and may offer a feature letting people pin content like photos to their homescreen, turning it into a sort of virtual fridge door.

New speaker technology should make it sound superior to current Echo models, one of the sources suggested, adding that the product could be announced in the first quarter of 2017.

The Echo line, controlled mainly through Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, has proven an unexpected hit since it launched in 2014, selling over 5 million units. That prompted Google to ship its own competitor, the Home, on Nov. 4.

Several reports have hinted that Apple could join the same space in 2017. The device would use an enhanced version of Siri, and might feature unique additions such as a camera for auto-detecting users and switching to their personal preferences. HomeKit integration could be a key focus, much in the same way that Echo speakers are integrated with various home automation platforms.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    randominternetpersonbuckalecStrangeDayspscooter63
  • Reply 2 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.

    Well said.  Maybe we're supposed to stick these devices all over the house.  "Alexa, we're out of toilet paper."
    MetriacanthosaurusStrangeDays
  • Reply 3 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    You don't walk up to it. It hears you clearly from across the room at normal voice levels. Alexa is much faster to understand and respond than Siri in my experience (especially true when compared to the Apple Watch), with better recognition as well. I rarely have my iPhone plugged in and it's typically in my pocket and locked so Siri won't work...so a bunch of these around the house with omnipresent listening is kinda compelling...and at $50 a pop you can cover your whole house for cheap. But yeah, I've been buying these as gifts bc they are cool, yet I don't have one myself. Not because I can just use my iPhone/Watch, but because I just don't see the use case.
    edited November 2016 SoliRayz2016
  • Reply 4 of 44
    ben20ben20 Posts: 119member
    Alexa is everything Siri was supposed to be. It might be hard for you to understand if you don't own both....
    SoliThe_Martini_Cat
  • Reply 5 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    Obviously you've never used either one on a day to day basis. You never have to shout or get up and walk to it to ask a question. It hears you clearly as if you were having a normal conversation with anyone else in the room. You can have multiple around the house as well for cheap. 

    I can ask Google Home to play any music I want through my sound system around my house, play YouTube, turn down/up/off/on any of my lights in my house, change the temperature in my house, get my daily schedule as I'm getting ready in the morning with weather and traffic on how long it'll take me to get to work and a ton more. It's actually pretty amazing what it can do. I petty much have almost everything automated. It just can't make me coffee yet. 
    slprescott
  • Reply 6 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    This is about "skating to where the puck is going".  I give Amazon credit here. 
    edited November 2016 SpamSandwich
  • Reply 7 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    Obviously you've never used either one on a day to day basis. You never have to shout or get up and walk to it to ask a question. It hears you clearly as if you were having a normal conversation with anyone else in the room. You can have multiple around the house as well for cheap. 

    I can ask Google Home to play any music I want through my sound system around my house, play YouTube, turn down/up/off/on any of my lights in my house, change the temperature in my house, get my daily schedule as I'm getting ready in the morning with weather and traffic on how long it'll take me to get to work and a ton more. It's actually pretty amazing what it can do. I petty much have almost everything automated. It just can't make me coffee yet. 

    Assuming you're not an outlier, this does suggest that Apple missed a big opportunity to build on the lead it (arguably) had with Siri.  As I said when Siri came out, I have to believe that much of what we use computers for today could be moved to a screenless interface.  Apple is the leader in the graphical user interface, but they need to invest just as heavily in being a leader in other interfaces.  The "Star Trek UI" is almost upon us and it appears that it's being delivered by a search company and an online bookstore.  Having said that, I would rather carry the device on my person than put it all over my house, so the iPhone and Apple Watch are fine on the hardware side.  However, "hey Siri" appears to be what Windows 3.1 was to Mac OS back in the day.  And that's a shame since Apple had the lead.
  • Reply 8 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    Obviously you've never used either one on a day to day basis. You never have to shout or get up and walk to it to ask a question. It hears you clearly as if you were having a normal conversation with anyone else in the room. You can have multiple around the house as well for cheap. 

    I can ask Google Home to play any music I want through my sound system around my house, play YouTube, turn down/up/off/on any of my lights in my house, change the temperature in my house, get my daily schedule as I'm getting ready in the morning with weather and traffic on how long it'll take me to get to work and a ton more. It's actually pretty amazing what it can do. I petty much have almost everything automated. It just can't make me coffee yet. 

    Assuming you're not an outlier, this does suggest that Apple missed a big opportunity to build on the lead it (arguably) had with Siri.  As I said when Siri came out, I have to believe that much of what we use computers for today could be moved to a screenless interface.  Apple is the leader in the graphical user interface, but they need to invest just as heavily in being a leader in other interfaces.  The "Star Trek UI" is almost upon us and it appears that it's being delivered by a search company and an online bookstore.  Having said that, I would rather carry the device on my person than put it all over my house, so the iPhone and Apple Watch are fine on the hardware side.  However, "hey Siri" appears to be what Windows 3.1 was to Mac OS back in the day.  And that's a shame since Apple had the lead.
    I fully believe I am an outlier. It's not cheap setting all that I have up. It's way cheaper then it used to be but still an extra expense that's not needed unless you want it. The day Apple can do everything I do now will be the moment I switch and try what they have out. 
  • Reply 9 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    Obviously you've never used either one on a day to day basis. You never have to shout or get up and walk to it to ask a question. It hears you clearly as if you were having a normal conversation with anyone else in the room. You can have multiple around the house as well for cheap. 

    I can ask Google Home to play any music I want through my sound system around my house, play YouTube, turn down/up/off/on any of my lights in my house, change the temperature in my house, get my daily schedule as I'm getting ready in the morning with weather and traffic on how long it'll take me to get to work and a ton more. It's actually pretty amazing what it can do. I petty much have almost everything automated. It just can't make me coffee yet. 

    Assuming you're not an outlier, this does suggest that Apple missed a big opportunity to build on the lead it (arguably) had with Siri.  As I said when Siri came out, I have to believe that much of what we use computers for today could be moved to a screenless interface.  Apple is the leader in the graphical user interface, but they need to invest just as heavily in being a leader in other interfaces.  The "Star Trek UI" is almost upon us and it appears that it's being delivered by a search company and an online bookstore.  Having said that, I would rather carry the device on my person than put it all over my house, so the iPhone and Apple Watch are fine on the hardware side.  However, "hey Siri" appears to be what Windows 3.1 was to Mac OS back in the day.  And that's a shame since Apple had the lead.
    Yes, Apple dropped the ball when it comes Siri but they're apparently working to rectify that

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-23/apple-said-to-step-up-plans-for-echo-style-smart-home-device-itfnod11

    "With an initiative code-named “Invisible Hand,” Apple hopes to give users the ability to fully control their devices through a Siri command system within three years, one of the people added"
  • Reply 10 of 44
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,766member
    Looks like Amazon found something to do with those millions of unsold Fire phones.

    I can picture the product development meeting. "Hey Jeff, what if we build an Echo speaker around those phones and say we're adding a touch screen. This way you can pull up news and weather more easily."
    "Um, yes. I know that sounds like a phone that you can't take anywhere."
    edited November 2016 StrangeDays
  • Reply 11 of 44
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    Obviously you've never used either one on a day to day basis. You never have to shout or get up and walk to it to ask a question. It hears you clearly as if you were having a normal conversation with anyone else in the room. You can have multiple around the house as well for cheap. 

    I can ask Google Home to play any music I want through my sound system around my house, play YouTube, turn down/up/off/on any of my lights in my house, change the temperature in my house, get my daily schedule as I'm getting ready in the morning with weather and traffic on how long it'll take me to get to work and a ton more. It's actually pretty amazing what it can do. I petty much have almost everything automated. It just can't make me coffee yet. 

    Assuming you're not an outlier, this does suggest that Apple missed a big opportunity to build on the lead it (arguably) had with Siri.  As I said when Siri came out, I have to believe that much of what we use computers for today could be moved to a screenless interface.  Apple is the leader in the graphical user interface, but they need to invest just as heavily in being a leader in other interfaces.  The "Star Trek UI" is almost upon us and it appears that it's being delivered by a search company and an online bookstore.  Having said that, I would rather carry the device on my person than put it all over my house, so the iPhone and Apple Watch are fine on the hardware side.  However, "hey Siri" appears to be what Windows 3.1 was to Mac OS back in the day.  And that's a shame since Apple had the lead.
    Yes, Apple dropped the ball when it comes Siri but they're apparently working to rectify that

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-23/apple-said-to-step-up-plans-for-echo-style-smart-home-device-itfnod11

    "With an initiative code-named “Invisible Hand,” Apple hopes to give users the ability to fully control their devices through a Siri command system within three years, one of the people added"
    3 years!?!?  Yikes!
  • Reply 12 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,408member
    I love my Echo. I got lucky and was a very early adopter*. It's brilliant in how well it can listen and how fast it can respond. It's so fast that it doesn't feel like it's using the Internet at all to send and receive data. I've even found a couple great Skills (think of them like apps, browser extensions or plug-ins) that make it even better.

    Loud speakers, easily connects to my iPhone for playback, amazing microphones that can pick up a morning mumble from across the room, and even pick up commands whilst music is playing.

    Their iPhone app is nice as it shows you every command you've made and let's you submit them if there's an issue. It's definitely more accurate than Siri, even if it's database of knowledge is more limited (but that's something I noted when it first launched, I have no idea how it compares to Siri's knowledge-base now.)

    I haven't used the the Dots. I'm not even sure how they differ from the Echo. Also haven't tried Alexa from Firestick or other Amazon devices.


    * Seemed to a random pick for those that were interested. I got mine 3–6 months before others who had signed up for the pre-order at the same time.
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 13 of 44
    FatmanFatman Posts: 187member
    I don't get why Apple users have to wait for Siri improvements, shouldn't Siri be continuously learning and improving with each query? Siri still gets questions wrong that I asked it years ago. Usually the voice recognition is correct - it just blows the context, can't parse the question correctly or completely comes up with a non related response - as if it's a product still in beta development.
  • Reply 14 of 44
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,468member
    Is this any real data in the market to indicate how successful Amazon and Google's home hub/voice control products have been?

    They just do not strike me as a realistic step forward in home automation. A single device that just sits in one place is no better or more useful than any iPhone or iPad that is laying around plugged in at the time. As an Apple Watch user, I don't need to shout across the house for Siri, I can say it quietly to my wrist.

    So is there really a great need for another separate device that sits around waiting to process requests? It's not something you're going to walk up to and ask a question. The commercials show people that just happen to be in the vicinity of the device, and busy doing something else, that call out questions or commands. I feel like they have to show it this way, because any other use case is ridiculous. They aren't going to show people getting up from across the room/house and walking up to it to ask a handsfree question.

    I remain at a loss for what these devices are.
    Obviously you've never used either one on a day to day basis. You never have to shout or get up and walk to it to ask a question. It hears you clearly as if you were having a normal conversation with anyone else in the room. You can have multiple around the house as well for cheap. 

    I can ask Google Home to play any music I want through my sound system around my house, play YouTube, turn down/up/off/on any of my lights in my house, change the temperature in my house, get my daily schedule as I'm getting ready in the morning with weather and traffic on how long it'll take me to get to work and a ton more. It's actually pretty amazing what it can do. I petty much have almost everything automated. It just can't make me coffee yet. 

    Assuming you're not an outlier, this does suggest that Apple missed a big opportunity to build on the lead it (arguably) had with Siri.  As I said when Siri came out, I have to believe that much of what we use computers for today could be moved to a screenless interface.  Apple is the leader in the graphical user interface, but they need to invest just as heavily in being a leader in other interfaces.  The "Star Trek UI" is almost upon us and it appears that it's being delivered by a search company and an online bookstore.  Having said that, I would rather carry the device on my person than put it all over my house, so the iPhone and Apple Watch are fine on the hardware side.  However, "hey Siri" appears to be what Windows 3.1 was to Mac OS back in the day.  And that's a shame since Apple had the lead.
    Yes, Apple dropped the ball when it comes Siri but they're apparently working to rectify that

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-23/apple-said-to-step-up-plans-for-echo-style-smart-home-device-itfnod11

    "With an initiative code-named “Invisible Hand,” Apple hopes to give users the ability to fully control their devices through a Siri command system within three years, one of the people added"
    3 years!?!?  Yikes!
    Yup, but they started two years ago. 
  • Reply 15 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,408member
    sog35 said:
    These 'things' make zero sense.

    I can do all this crap with my iPhone that is always with me. or better my Apple Watch.
    No. No you can't.
  • Reply 16 of 44
    Can't wait to tap it to ask for news to be read me! /s

    Seriously, I don't get these things. Fill me in -- what does it do that phone/tablet and nearby wifi sound system doesn't?
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 17 of 44
    Soli said:
    I love my Echo. I got lucky and was a very early adopter*. It's brilliant in how well it can listen and how fast it can respond. It's so fast that it doesn't feel like it's using the Internet at all to send and receive data. I've even found a couple great Skills (think of them like apps, browser extensions or plug-ins) that make it even better.

    Loud speakers, easily connects to my iPhone for playback, amazing microphones that can pick up a morning mumble from across the room, and even pick up commands whilst music is playing.

    Their iPhone app is nice as it shows you every command you've made and let's you submit them if there's an issue. It's definitely more accurate than Siri, even if it's database of knowledge is more limited (but that's something I noted when it first launched, I have no idea how it compares to Siri's knowledge-base now.)

    I haven't used the the Dots. I'm not even sure how they differ from the Echo. Also haven't tried Alexa from Firestick or other Amazon devices.


    * Seemed to a random pick for those that were interested. I got mine 3–6 months before others who had signed up for the pre-order at the same time.
    Everyone who has and uses one apparently loves it, but I'm not sure there's anything Apple could offer that would be better in this space. I understand the Google thingie isn't quite as good as the Echo. 
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 18 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,408member
    Soli said:
    I love my Echo. I got lucky and was a very early adopter*. It's brilliant in how well it can listen and how fast it can respond. It's so fast that it doesn't feel like it's using the Internet at all to send and receive data. I've even found a couple great Skills (think of them like apps, browser extensions or plug-ins) that make it even better.

    Loud speakers, easily connects to my iPhone for playback, amazing microphones that can pick up a morning mumble from across the room, and even pick up commands whilst music is playing.

    Their iPhone app is nice as it shows you every command you've made and let's you submit them if there's an issue. It's definitely more accurate than Siri, even if it's database of knowledge is more limited (but that's something I noted when it first launched, I have no idea how it compares to Siri's knowledge-base now.)

    I haven't used the the Dots. I'm not even sure how they differ from the Echo. Also haven't tried Alexa from Firestick or other Amazon devices.


    * Seemed to a random pick for those that were interested. I got mine 3–6 months before others who had signed up for the pre-order at the same time.
    Everyone who has and uses one apparently loves it, but I'm not sure there's anything Apple could offer that would be better in this space. I understand the Google thingie isn't quite as good as the Echo. 
    Apple's ability to integrate HW and SW, and different devices could make their solution excellent for an Apple home. For example, headphones that use Apple's W1-chip are incredibly easy to set up on a device, automatically syncs that setup to your other iCloud-connected devices, will switch the device the headphone is connected, and even uses accelerometers and Siri to make its use (especially in the case of the AirPods) a seamless experience. I have no doubt Apple could use that same synergy to make the home just as modern and simple.
  • Reply 19 of 44
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,641member
    I still think Apple is working on something like this that integrates, AppleTV, Siri, AirPort Wireless, Routing, etc...Using the W1-chip this I think would do well. What was Apple's AirPort team reassigned for...something like this I believe. 
    canukstorm
  • Reply 20 of 44
    I really don't get the impression that Apple is thinking big anymore. Yes, there are lots of individual pieces of hardware, software, services that are nice and useful in and of themselves, but it's all over the map but I am not seeing an organizing principle, or a big picture, yet. An iMeta, if you will.
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