Amazon today added a new Alexa feature that allows several Amazon Echo devices to be synchronized and controlled across multiple rooms in a home. Echo owners can now target music to a specific Echo device or play the same music on more than one Echo.
The feature works with a variety of music services, including Amazon Music, TuneIn, iHeartRatio, and Pandora, with support for Spotify and SiriusXM coming soon. To use multi-room support, users will need to use the Alexa app to create groups with two or more Echo devices, giving the group a name like "downstairs." Once the group is enabled, commands like "Alexa, play John Mayer downstairs" will work.
"In just the last few months, we've added dozens of new features to Alexa that enhance your entertainment experience--control of Amazon Fire TV and your home entertainment systems via Echo; music lyrics, Amazon Video, and movie trailers on Echo Show; and activity-based music searches--and we're just getting started," said Toni Reid, Vice President, Amazon Alexa. "Today, we're making Alexa even smarter with an all-new feature that lets you play music synchronized on multiple Echo devices to provide room-filling music throughout your home."
Amazon's move to add support for multiple Echo devices comes as Apple prepares to launch both the HomePod and an AirPlay 2 protocol. Multiple HomePod devices can be used simultaneously, and with AirPlay 2, speakers that support the feature can be paired together for a whole-home music experience.
Multi-room music support is available for the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show in the United States, UK, and Germany starting today. Amazon says it plans to extend the ability allow users to control multi-room music on other connected speakers with just a voice command through a new Multi-Room Music SDK that device makers can build into their speakers. Amazon plans to work with brands like Sonos, Bose, Sound United, and Samsung, and some of these manufacturers are also working to support AirPlay 2 in future devices.
In other Echo-related news, the original Amazon Echo is out of stock on Amazon.com, fueling speculation that a new device launch is imminent. Rumors have suggested Amazon is working on a new version of the Echo that's designed to better compete with Apple's upcoming HomePod. The new Echo device is said to feature improved sound quality, better microphone technology, and a new design.