amazon echo – Amazon Echo (shortened to Echo and known colloquially as “Alexa”) is a brand of smart speakers developed by Amazon. Echo devices connect to the voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa, which responds to the names “Alexa”, “Echo”, or “Computer”. Users may change this wake word to “Amazon”, “Echo” or “Computer”. The features of the device include: voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, and playing audiobooks, in addition to providing weather, traffic and other real-time information. It can also control several smart devices, acting as a home automation hub.
According to confirmed reports, Amazon started developing Echo devices inside its Lab126 offices in Silicon Valley and in Cambridge, Massachusetts as early as 2010. The device represented one of Amazon’s first attempts to expand its device portfolio beyond the Kindle e-reader. The Echo featured prominently in Amazon’s first-ever Super Bowl broadcast television advertisement in 2016.
Amazon initially limited the first-generation Echo to Amazon Prime members or by invitation, but it became widely available in the United States on June 23, 2015. The press speculated that it would make its Canadian debut in mid-to-late 2016, after Amazon posted job listings for developers for Alexa and co-hosted a hackathon in Toronto. The Echo became available in the United Kingdom on 28 September 2016. Additionally, the Alexa voice service is available to be added to other devices, and Amazon encourages other companies’ devices and services to connect to it.
Echo devices offer weather from AccuWeather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, BBC, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn. Echo can play music from the owner’s Amazon Music accounts and has built-in support for other streaming music services like Apple Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Sirius XM, and Spotify among others, and has support for IFTTT and Nest thermostats. Echo can also play music from non-compatible music streaming services such as Google Play Music from a phone or tablet via Bluetooth. Echo maintains voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping and to-do lists and can access Wikipedia articles. Echo will respond to questions about items in one’s Google Calendar. It also integrates with Yonomi, Philips Hue, Belkin Wemo, SmartThings, Insteon, and Wink. Additionally, integration with the Echo is in the works for Countertop by Orange Chef, Sonos,Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, MARA, and Mojio. Questions like “Who is Barack Obama?” are answered by reading the first few lines of the corresponding Wikipedia article.
Echo devices also have access to “skills” built with the Alexa Skills Kit. These are third-party-developed voice applications that add to the capabilities of any Alexa-enabled device (such as the Echo). Examples of skills include the ability to play music, answer general questions, set an alarm, order a pizza, get an Uber ridesharing car, and more. Skills are continuously being added to increase the capabilities available to the user. The Alexa Skills Kit is a collection of self-service application programming interfaces (API), tools, documentation and code samples that make it fast and easy for any developer to add skills to Alexa. Developers can also use the “Smart Home Skill API”, a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit, to easily teach Alexa how to control cloud-controlled lighting and thermostat devices. All of the code runs in the cloud — nothing is on any user device. A developer can follow tutorials to learn how to quickly build voice-response capability for their new and existing applications. amazon echo
In November 2018, a major new feature was launched that will allow users to make Skype calls. Every past and present Echo device will be able to dial a number via Skype. Echos with display will offer full video Skype capability.
The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) Allows developers to voice-enable connected products with a microphone and speaker. The AVS enables volume control, audio playback, and speech recognition .The devices have natural lifelike voices resulting from speech-unit technology. High speech accuracy is achieved through sophisticated natural language processing (NLP) algorithms built into the Echo’s text-to-speech (TTS) engine.
As with all Alexa devices, the functionality of Echo smart speakers periodically evolves as Amazon releases new software for it. Most new releases fix bugs in addition to including enhanced functionality. New releases are pushed to the devices on a gradual basis so it may take several days to a week or more for a particular device to be updated. Because much of Echo’s intelligence lies in the cloud, significant functional enhancements can be made to Echo without updating the software version it is running. For example, in April 2015, the Echo added the ability to give live sports scores without updating the software version running on the device.
The Amazon Echo is able to connect to many different smart home devices. Thermostats, humidifiers, lightbulbs, plugs, dog and cat feeder, door locks, cameras, thermostats, security systems, speakers, WiFi, televisions, vacuums, microwaves, printers, and other smart home devices can now all be controlled through Alexa. Alexa can be used to activate and deactivate all of these smart home appliances, as well as change their settings depending on the device. For example, Alexa can be used to change the temperature in a house through a thermostat, turn off the lights with smart lights, put out dog or cat food via a smart pet feeder, and activate the security systems via a smart security system. The user is able organize these smart home devices by putting them into groups. For example, a user can make a “Music Group” on the Amazon Echo. The Amazon Echo will be able to play music and other media in multiple rooms in a house through other Echos and speakers that are in the “Music Group.” Along with multiple groups, an Amazon Echo can hold multiple profiles. Switching between the profiles can allow users to play their music, access their calendars, and use their accounts for shopping, instead of just using one person’s.
Amazon Echos are able to make calls and send messages. Users can make calls to another Amazon Echo or speaker that is in the house by calling the device name. Users can also make calls and send messages to other people that have an Amazon Echo. This is done by connecting the user’s contacts to the Amazon Echo. The user’s Amazon Echo will call their contact’s Amazon Echo. They will be able to have a conversation using the Amazon Echos. Messages will go to the contact’s phone, in the Alexa App. The message can also be played on the Echo.
- Our most popular smart speaker – Now with a fabric design and improved speaker for richer and louder sound.
- Voice control your music – Stream songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Sirius XM, and others. You can also listen to audiobooks from Audible.
- Bigger, better sound – Pair with a second Echo Dot (3rd gen) for rich, stereo sound. Fill your home with music with compatible Echo devices in different rooms.
- Ready to help – Ask Alexa to play music, answer questions, read the news, check the weather, set alarms, control compatible smart home devices, and more.
- Connect with others – Call almost anyone hands-free. Instantly drop in on other rooms in your home or make an announcement to every room with a compatible Echo device.
- Use another speaker – Connect to your own speakers over Bluetooth or with a 3.5 mm audio cable.
- Alexa has skills – With 50,000+ skills, Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new skills like tracking fitness, playing games, and more.
- Voice control your smart home – Turn on lights, adjust thermostats, lock doors, and more with compatible connected devices