Amazon’s next Alexa-enabled device will likely be a premium speaker with a 7-inch touchscreen, according to Bloomberg. The new product will have an array of always listening microphones, like the Amazon Echo, for hands-free voice functionality. The speakers themselves will be better sounding than the ones in the Echo and the new device will run an optimized version of Fire OS.
Rumors of a new Alexa-enabled device with a screen have been circulating for over a year now, with the most solid news up until now coming this past May from The WSJ. Bloomberg’s sources say the new device will launch as soon as the first quarter of 2017.
The included display on the new device will be used to show additional information to supplement what’s provided audibly by Alexa, much like the Alexa cards seen on the Fire TV. The screen is said to be tiltable so that it can be seen while standing directly above the new speaker. Alexa-enabled devices can already display similar additional information via Voicecast on compatible Fire tablets, so this new prioduct will likely be an expansion of that concept. Amazon has been pushing Alexa Skill developers to display visual cards in the Alexa app in conjuction with auible responses. Those cards will likely be a key component to this new product.
Sources say the new speaker will run an optimized version of Fire OS, which means software-wise, it will be related more to the Fire TV than to the existing Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap devices. With Fire OS onboard, you may be able to watch movies and shows on it, as a small countertop TV. There may also be the possibility of it running full Android apps.
The Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap are expected to stay in production, so this new device will likely be priced higher than the Echo, at above $180, as the premium offering. Considering it is said to play high-quality audio at all volume levels, I expect it will be priced well above the Echo.