Amazon could unveil touch screen Echo device on Tuesday, report says

in General Discussion edited May 2017
Looking to stay ahead of competitors in the smart home appliance game, online retail giant Amazon is expected to announce a new touch-screen version of its popular voice-first Echo device as early as Tuesday, a report said.

Citing sources familiar with Amazon's plans, The Wall Street Journal on Monday said the company will reveal an Echo variant boasting a 7-inch touch screen with support for internet-based telephone and video calls. Like other Echo hardware, Amazon's Alexa voice assistant will be at the heart of the system.

Rumors of a touch-screen Echo device gathered steam last week images of the purported product popped up on Amazon's servers. Available only for a brief period, the low-resolution photo revealed a wedge-shaped device with a large screen positioned above an elongated speaker. A small opening above the display appears to hold a camera, which might be used to power features similar to the Echo Look, a voice-capable camera accessory that uses machine learning to rate user outfits.

The leaked images jibe with today's report, which says the touch screen Echo will support some of the same functionality as the recently released Look.

In internal beta testing for "a few months," the unnamed device is expected to carry a retail price of over $200. That would place the touch screen model at the top of Amazon's Echo lineup, above the Echo flagship speaker, which is currently on sale for $149, and the $199 Look.

According to sources, Amazon is planning to announce the device as early as Tuesday before shipments begin in June, the report said.

Alongside the new Echo model, Amazon is expected to announce telephone services for existing Echo devices in the coming weeks, the report said. Sources claim calling features will be internet based and could roll out in stages, the first being intercom functionality between two Echo devices in a single home or with other Echo owners.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Apple is also rumored to launch a voice assistant device for the home as soon as next month. The Siri-based appliance is said to sport an Echo-like cylindrical design similar to the Mac Pro, but with high-end audio components, a custom A-series CPU and a communications suite featuring AirPlay and Apple's W1 Bluetooth chip.

Whether Apple's voice assistant speaker will boast a touch screen is unknown, but SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller made the case for implementing screens into voice-driven assistants in a recent interview. Aside from a few specific scenarios, such as driving, voice assistants often benefit from some form of visual interaction, Schiller said.

"So there's many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn't mean you'd never want a screen," he said. "So the idea of not having a screen, I don't think suits many situations."

Apple will be facing stiff competition if and when it decides to release a Siri-based home appliance. The home voice assistant segment is currently dominated by Amazon's Echo offerings, which allow users to control smart home hardware, perform basic internet queries and order products from Google's offering, Google Home, presents similar functionality, while Microsoft's newly announced Invoke "smartspeaker" adds voice calling over Skype to the mix.


  • Reply 1 of 18
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member
    Yes, because the next logical step in a system designed to be hands-free, out of the way, and to blend into the background is a massive touch-enabled screen in a hideous box shape that won't fit in anywhere.

    PLEASE let this be real.
  • Reply 2 of 18
    mikethemartianmikethemartian Posts: 1,166member
    Seems to me that it would make better sense to have the ability to connect an already existing touch screen device that the user will likely already have and which is mobile to the Echo to access the additional features.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,035member
    There is a benefit to this. Going back to how Woz pitched his original idea to HP… it can be used for recipes in the kitchen. You can also use it to display, instead of tell you a lot of information. I'm sure everyone can think of an example where looking at an image or reading, is better than only listening. This could display weather for the week in a glance or show you an album cover for music playing, being able to see a map of the house to check which access points are not secure, and countless other things.

    This is not a product for me, and this should not be the way Apple first comes to the home-based digital personal assistant market, but this absolutely something that will certain benefits over a voice-only system.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    That looks like something from the 80s version of the future.
    tallest skil
  • Reply 5 of 18
    "Hey! Siri"
  • Reply 6 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,035member
    "Hey! Siri"
    Considering how well Amazon did with the original Echo, I have to assume that they'll have the display-out optimized for whatever visual imagery they deem worthwhile for a device mostly designed for listening and speaking as the primary UI.
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 7 of 18
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member
    That looks like something from the 80s version of the future.
    But even Apple’s ‘80s vision of the future looks better than it does.

  • Reply 8 of 18
    suddenly newtonsuddenly newton Posts: 13,816member
    Is that an Apple ProFile?
  • Reply 9 of 18
    NumNutsNumNuts Posts: 36member
    "Hey! Siri"
    12.9" iPad Pro doesn't allow Hey Siri (unless charging) for some reason. 
  • Reply 10 of 18
    ravnorodomravnorodom Posts: 683member
    I want CRT tube touch screen Echo device... just like those used in Star Wars.
  • Reply 11 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    sog35 said:
    Bezos is truly losing his mind. First Echo Look now this monstrosity.

    Is sad that many genius eventually go nutty.
    Except who wants to bet it is also a TV, a videophone, a way to summon help, a means of placing any kind of order on Amazon and also a home automation and security system?

    Amazon, Facebook and Google are all getting tantalizingly close to unveiling artificial intelligence systems which approach the usefulness of a personal assistant thanks to their massive data collection efforts and the willingness of their customers to provide this data.
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 12 of 18
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,376member
    Isn't releasing one spy device a month enough, they need more? Because I guess something that takes photos of you in your bedroom while changing your clothes just doesn't cut it, it has to be around the whole house.  
  • Reply 13 of 18
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    Let’s get one thing straight shall we? Amazon’s business is selling stuff. Any device Amazon comes up with will be designed to help people buy Amazon’s stuff. Amazon is not into improving people’s lives other than getting them to buy more stuff from Amazon.
  • Reply 14 of 18
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 785member
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 15 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,035member
    lkrupp said:
    Let’s get one thing straight shall we? Amazon’s business is selling stuff. Any device Amazon comes up with will be designed to help people buy Amazon’s stuff. Amazon is not into improving people’s lives other than getting them to buy more stuff from Amazon.
    Can you name a company whose business isn't selling goods or services? 
  • Reply 16 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,035member
    zroger73 said:
    Lots of good uses mentioned. From the baby monitor to the front door camera to video calling to seeing movie times without having them read to you (which was always annoying wth phone-based systems). I still have no need for this, but I can see plenty of people finding it more useful over just an Echo or Echo Dot.
  • Reply 17 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    OK, it's called the Echo Show and they're going to sell a TON of these:

    As as I sort of suspected, this is meant for the massive and growing senior population more than anything.
Sign In or Register to comment.