In an effort that would give future Echo speakers with Alexa a new advantage over Apple's HomePod, Reuters today reports that Amazon is working with chipmakers to build Alexa speakers that would not require a constant power source. As it stands, most smart assistant devices -- Amazon's main Echo, Apple HomePod, Google Home, etc -- require a constant draw of power due to their always-on microphones listening for the user's voice commands, among other reasons.

Now, Amazon has partnered with chipmaker DSP Group to build a standardized chip that is "a little smaller than a U.S. 10-cent coin" and optimized for lower power consumption. Amazon and other companies will be able to use the chip to place Alexa into their own smart devices that offer greater portability to users.

amazon echo power cord
Amazon already has the Amazon Tap, a portable Bluetooth speaker that doesn't need to be plugged in to use all of its features. With a "hands-free mode" users can ask Alexa questions and command her to play music, which slightly affects battery life: 9 hours of continuous playback compared to 8 hours with hands-free mode activated.

There are also third-party companies like Fabriq that sell portable Alexa solutions, but these devices are still a small portion of the market in comparison to AC-powered speakers. With Amazon and DSP Group's new partnership, it appears that Amazon is looking to greatly bolster the amount of cord-free Alexa devices available to buy, while also improving the user experience with internal chips that can run always-on listening features without as much of a hit to battery life.

Amazon also has numerous other chipmakers offering solutions for Alexa -- including Intel and Qualcomm -- but as of now DSP is said to be the sole supplier competing with a chip that offers low power consumption. DSP's current client roster includes making chips for Samsung smart watches, cameras for GoPro, and a wireless speaker for Logitech.

Those are all large companies with many engineers, but by working with Amazon to make its chip easier to use in a device, DSP is hoping to spur more products from gadget makers of all sizes to include Alexa, Elyakim said.

“We are at a fairly early level in this market, but I think over the next 12 months we’ll see a lot of announcements,” he said.

For Apple's HomePod, the main rumor for the next-generation speaker centers around its price tag, with numerous reports earlier this year suggesting Apple is "mulling" and "low-cost version" of the HomePod that will run between $150-$200. What this means for specific features remains unclear, but since the original speaker is believed to have underperformed due to ecosystem limitations and Siri issues, some theorize Apple could focus on combating these problems in the cheaper HomePod.

homepod power cable
The only time that portability and a future version of HomePod were tied together came from a questionable report earlier this spring, which claimed that the "low-priced" HomePod will be placed under the Beats by Dre brand, which only sells portable rechargeable speakers. Apple has yet to introduce its Siri assistant into any non-Apple product, and one reason Beats Pill devices don't have "Hey Siri" is likely due to their portability and lack of constant power.

Although unlikely at this point, the speculative HomePod/Beats speaker was described in a way that suggested a more portable smart speaker than the first generation, and could be similar to the proposed future versions of Amazon Echo from today's report. As it stands, there are many pros and cons to both the HomePod and Echo, as Apple's more expensive speaker focuses on sound quality first, while Amazon's speaker provides one of the most robust smart home hubs on the market thanks to its numerous Alexa Skills.

Tags: Amazon, Alexa

Top Rated Comments

sblemmy Avatar
76 months ago
Is this a big technical challenge? iPhones have Hey Siri, so shouldn’t it be simple to include the feature in a wireless speaker with a bigger battery?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
npmacuser5 Avatar
76 months ago
I'm looking forward to the next gen echo. Hopefully it has an IR blaster so I can make my dumb devices seem smart.
First Amazon Echo device with blaster (actually 4), Cube. Not yet the functionality of say Harmony, a good first start.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmwade77 Avatar
76 months ago
I'm looking forward to the next gen echo. Hopefully it has an IR blaster so I can make my dumb devices seem smart.
They probably won't do that, as it would cut into Logitech's business and they kind of partner together. Really, you can get a Logitech Harmony Hub and it will do the trick.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kyleh22 Avatar
76 months ago
I'm looking forward to the next gen echo. Hopefully it has an IR blaster so I can make my dumb devices seem smart.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
top stories 13apr2024

Top Stories: M4 Mac Roadmap Leaked, New iPads in Second Week of May, and More

Saturday April 13, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's hardware roadmap was in the news this week, with things hopefully firming up for a launch of updated iPad Pro and iPad Air models next month while we look ahead to the other iPad models and a full lineup of M4-based Macs arriving starting later this year. We also heard some fresh rumors about iOS 18, due to be unveiled at WWDC in a couple of months, while we took a look at how things ...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...
iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Colors

iPhone 16 Plus Rumored to Come in These 7 Colors

Wednesday April 10, 2024 3:52 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 16 Plus may come in seven colors that either build upon the existing five colors in the standard iPhone 15 lineup or recast them in a new finish, based on a new rumor out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker Fixed focus digital, Apple's upcoming larger 6.7-inch iPhone 16 Plus model will come in the following colors, compared to the colors currently available for the...
apple silicon feature joeblue

Macs to Get AI-Focused M4 Chips Starting in Late 2024

Thursday April 11, 2024 10:10 am PDT by
Apple will begin updating its Mac lineup with M4 chips in late 2024, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The M4 chip will be focused on improving performance for artificial intelligence capabilities. Last year, Apple introduced the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips all at once in October, so it's possible we could see the M4 lineup come during the same time frame. Gurman says that the entire...