Amazon is making a premium Echo with 7-inch touchscreen running Fire OS

alexa-cards-on-fire-tv

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.

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13 comments
  1. Troks says:

    Interesting. I’ll buy assuming one of the following exists.
    1. Performance exceeds Sonos play 2
    2. Priced no more than 299.99
    3. Offers interoperability with Sonos
    4. Can be used as a Speakerphone (Cast calls from my mobile to speaker)

  2. Powarun says:

    I kind of bought the fire tablet to do this now. Though the tablet also has other uses but the setting a timer on the echo, it appears on the tablet which is mounted a few feet away.

  3. nyder says:

    Can’t wait for the ad subsidized one. Every 30 mins it tells you a new ad is on the screen.

  4. Ian S. says:

    I have an older Fire Tablet and Echo/Dot. What is the best way to make the tablet into a display for the echo? is there a way to make it always on or wake with alexa on the echo? A way to split the power cord to power both?

    I’d love to see others who are doing something already.

    • AFTVnews says:

      If you install the Alexa app on the tablet (and assuming it’s compatible) there is an option in the app to use the tablet in conjunction with your Echo/Dot. In the Alexa app on the tablet, go to Settings > Voicecast and turn it on. Also turn on Automatic Voicecast.

      That’s it. You don’t have to set the tablet to always leave the display on because it will automatically wake up every time you request something from Alexa through the Echo/Dot.

      If you don’t enable the Automatic Voicecast option, you have to say “Alexa, show this on my Fire tablet” after Alexa responds to something, for it to pop up on the tablet.

  5. pmcd says:

    Sounds great. Had a Sony Dash, a Win 10/ Android similar device and currently a Zettaly Avy. The last two had a similar form factor to the Sony Dash but none really worked as well ( the Zettaly Avy speaker, screen is pretty neat though). Hopefully the Amazon product will expand beyond the Amazon world and allow, for example, picture slideshows from a variety of sources, music from a variety of services, etc… Could be really neat.

  6. Joe says:

    Oh what…no one has asked if Kodi can be side loaded on to it :p :D

  7. John says:

    This is the kind of product I am looking for as I simply want an internet radio streaming device with the Echo’s intelligence but I don’t feel like talking to it every day to play station x or y. Currently the only solution is the Fire TV but I really wanted to stay away from yet another device to hook up to the TV. If you can control music apps like Tune In and Iheartradio on this new device’s screen, that would be exactly what I am looking for.

    Although you would have to be able to control the screen with the remote or then it would be back to the Fire TV for me. And if they are going to price it higher than the Echo, it needs an ethernet jack and an audio out.

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