Matter, the new smart home standard that is supposed to usher in a new era of simplicity and interoperability across all forms of smart home devices has officially launched this week. It’ll probably be months before support for Matter reaches all the different device types included in the standard, such as Fire TVs and streaming devices, but Amazon has announced the first 17 Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show models to receive support for Matter. Here’s the full list as well as details on which aspects of Matter will initially be functional and which will not. Read more ›
Amazon has added the ability for 4th-gen Echo and 4th-gen Echo Dots to detect occupancy in a room by emitting an inaudible ultrasound audio wave. The capability can be used to automatically trigger Alexa Routines when you enter or exit a room. When configuring the trigger of a routine, select “Smart Home” and then select the appropriate Echo to be given the option to trigger the routine when “People are detected” or when “People aren’t detected.” You also have the option of enabling or disabling ultrasound motion detection altogether for each compatible Echo device. This is done under the device settings of each Echo within the Alexa app.
As I discovered earlier this week, Amazon is now officially guaranteeing 4 years of software security updates for all Fire TV models from the last date the devices were sold on Amazon. It turns out that this new policy isn’t limited to Fire TVs, as it also includes all Echos, Echos Shows, Fire Tablets, and Kindle devices. All of these devices will receive the same guaranteed 4 years of software security updates. Read more ›
Amazon says that group calling is now available for audio calls through an Echo or video calls through an Echo Show. The feature supports up to 7 participants and is available in Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the US, and the UK. You can go into the Alexa app to create a group containing multiple contacts and then call that group at once by saying “Alexa, call [group name].” Read more ›
Amazon has launched a Live Translation feature for Alexa that will translate between two languages in real-time. The feature uses an Amazon Echo or Echo Show to translate conversations between English and French, German, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Read more ›
Amazon has announced a series of new spherical ball-shaped Echo smart speakers. Seen above in the following order is the new 4th-gen Amazon Echo for $99.99, the new 4th-gen Echo Dot for $49.99, the new Echo Dot with Clock for $59.99, and the new Echo Dot Kids Edition for $59.99. While the new Amazon Echo may look just like the new Echo Dots from the outside, they’re quite different on the inside. The Echo packs in premium sound, thanks to its dual 0.8″ tweeters and 3.0″ woofer, as well as a Zigbee smart hub, while the Echo Dots have just one 1.6″ speaker. Read more ›
Amazon is bringing back the Product (RED) version of the Amazon Echo that they first made available for a limited run this time last year. Amazon will donate $10 for every Red Echo purchased to the Product (RED) organization to help fight AIDS. On a somewhat related note, Amazon has started selling an official Red & White Echo Shell, as well as a Red & Green Echo Shell, if the new all red version of the Echo wasn’t festive enough for you. Read more ›
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Amazon has announced that they’re making Echo devices and Alexa available in Mexico. Echo devices in Mexico are already available for pre-order, at discounted introductory prices, and will be arriving on November 14th. The Amazon Echo is currently $1,799 Mexican pesos ($90 USD) and will increase to $2,400 ($120 USD) later. The Echo Dot is $699 ($35 USD) and will increase to $1,299 ($65 USD), while the Echo Plus is $2,199 ($110 USD) and will be $3,299 ($165 USD) after the pre-order period. Lastly, the Echo Spot is $2,499 ($125 USD), which will later increase to $3,199 ($160 USD). Also announced is the arrival of Amazon Music in Mexico. The service will offer over 50 million ad-free songs for $99 per month ($5 USD) and will include a 3 month free trial. This announcement comes just a few weeks after Alexa and Echos made their debut in Italy and Spain last month.
Amazon and Microsoft have announced that Skype calling is coming to Alexa. Amazon Echo smart speakers will be able to make Skype voice calls, while Echo Shows will also be able to make Skype video calls. Those who pay for SkypeOut will also be able to use Alexa to call mobile and landlines through Skype, although that funcitonality is already available for free directly through Alexa’s default calling capabillities. The integration will simply work by saying “Alexa, call [contact] on Skype.” Microsoft says it will arrive on Echo devices later this year.
Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and Echo devices are continuing their global expansion. The lineup just debuted in France earlier this month, and now Amazon has announced that Spain and Italy are the next countries to get Alexa and Echo devices. Alexa’s arrival in Spain is significant because it means Alexa will speak Spanish for the first time, which is among the most popular languages in the world. Amazon is opening Alexa to developers in Spain and Italy now and will release the voice assistant and devices in those countries later this year. With the addition of Spain and Italy, Alexa will be available in 12 countries, which include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.