Amazon Echo


'Amazon Echo' Articles

Amazon Reportedly Developing Echo With Better Sound Quality to Rival Apple HomePod and Other Speakers

Amazon is developing a higher-quality version of its popular Echo smart speaker, according to a new report today by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Prototypes of the cylindrical speaker are wider than the current Echo to squeeze in additional components including at least four tweeters, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter. The speaker is reportedly being developed to include improved audio to rival Apple's HomePod and other competing speakers on the market. According to Gurman, the Echo has lost some ground to more premium smart speakers that are marketed as offering superior sound. The Echo, which went on sale in 2015, will grab 63% of the U.S. market this year, according to EMarketer. But it has lost some ground to the Sonos One, Apple Inc. HomePod and Google Home Max -- all of which claim to deliver superior audio. Google now has 31% of the market, while the rest have a combined 12%. The HomePod isn't selling as well as Apple expected, and the company recently dropped the price.The development of a higher-quality Echo marks a new phase in Amazon's attempt to gain ground in the smart speaker segment. The company has previously introduced halfway-house solutions to improve the audio of the existing cylindrical Echo by offering a standalone subwoofer and connections to link the speakers to a hi-fi stereo system. The Echo range will also receive minor updates this fall, people familiar with the plans told Bloomberg. Amazon also reportedly plans to launch a hi-fidelity version of its music streaming service by

Amazon Reveals 'Echo Show 5' With New Design and Alexa Commands for Deleting Voice Recordings

Amazon today announced the Echo Show 5, the latest Echo device with a 5.5-inch display, more compact design, and privacy-focused voice controls for Alexa. Echo Show 5 is priced at $89.99 and is set to launch on June 26, 2019. Amazon's Echo Show devices have speakers and a touchscreen, aimed at letting customers watch the news via apps like NBC and Reuters, look at the weather, or make video calls. Echo Show 5 continues this idea, and Amazon even pointed out that you can use the device to listen to music via Apple Music, thanks to recent integration. Like other Echo devices, Echo Show 5 can also act as a smart home hub so that you can say things like "Alexa, turn on the lights," or use on-screen display controls to adjust brightness levels. Smart camera feeds can be viewed on the display, as well as thermostat levels and more. Echo Show 5 also supports two-way talk functionality with Ring doorbell cameras. If you use the Echo Show 5 as an alarm clock, the device's display will naturally brighten and show a sunrise animation before the alarm goes off. At that time, you can set a routine that displays the weather forecast for the day, the morning news, and more on the Echo Show 5 screen. “Since we launched the first Echo Show device, customers have told us they love asking Alexa to show them things—whether it’s a recipe for banana bread, their shopping list, or music lyrics. With Echo Show 5, we’ve made it even easier and affordable for customers to add a smart display to every room of their house,” said Tom Taylor, Senior Vice President, Amazon Alexa.

Alexa Now Supports Apple Music in Australia and New Zealand on Echo, Sonos, and Fire TV Devices

Alexa now supports Apple Music in Australia and New Zealand on Amazon Echo and Amazon Fire TV devices, and compatible Sonos speakers, as reflected in a recently updated Apple support document. This means Apple Music subscribers who own one of those devices in those countries can now ask Alexa to play songs, artists, playlists, and more from Apple Music. This functionality first launched in the United States in December before expanding to the United Kingdom and Ireland last month. Read our guide on how to set up Apple Music in the Alexa app, including how to make it the default music service so that you don't have to say "on Apple Music" each time you ask Alexa to play something. (Thanks, Brad!)

'Alexa Guard' Security Feature Rolls Out to Amazon Echo Devices in the US

Amazon announced this morning that Alexa Guard is now rolling out to all Echo device owners in the U.S. The free feature update, which has been trialed by a select few over the last few months, turns Echo speakers into security devices when no-one's home by allowing them to listen for key sounds indicating danger or intrusion. Users need to say "Alexa, I'm leaving" to set Alexa Guard to Away mode, after which the device will listen for sounds like breaking glass and the sound of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. According to TechCrunch, Amazon has worked with licensed contractors to break hundreds of different glass windows with different instruments in order to create a wide range of different sounds for Alexa to listen for. Upon detecting an ominous sound, Alexa sends the owner Smart Alerts via phone notifications. Users can also play the detected sound from the Alexa mobile app or Drop In on their Echo device remotely to find out what's happening. Alexa can arm a Ring or ADT security system, with the user able to choose to forward Smart Alerts they receive to Ring or ADT. Users with Away Lighting can also use the alert to turn on lights so as to make it look like they're actually home. For more details about Alexa Guard, check out Amazon's FAQ.

Employees Who Listen to Amazon Alexa Requests Can Access Customers' Home Addresses

Earlier this month, Bloomberg shared details on the thousands of employees that Amazon employs around the world to listen to voice recordings captured in the homes of Amazon Echo owners when the Alexa wake word is spoken, with the purpose of improving the service. There was some concerning information in the report, including employee access to private recordings, recordings that are upsetting or potentially criminal, and an employee tendency to share private recordings in group work chat environments. As it turns out, there's something Alexa owners should be even more worried about -- some of these employees have access to the home addresses of Amazon customers. In a new report on the team Amazon employs to listen to Amazon Echo recordings, Bloomberg says that employees have access to location data and can "easily find a customer's home address" by typing geographic coordinates into third-party mapping software. The new information was shared by five anonymous Amazon employees who spoke to Bloomberg.Team members with access to Alexa users' geographic coordinates can easily type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees, who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program. While there's no indication Amazon employees with access to the data have attempted to track down individual users, two members of the Alexa team expressed concern to Bloomberg that Amazon was granting unnecessarily broad access to customer data that would make it easy to identify a device's owner.Bloomberg

Thousands of Amazon Employees Listen to Alexa Requests for Improvement Purposes [Updated]

Amazon has thousands of employees around the world that listen to voice recordings captured in the homes of Amazon Echo owners, reports Bloomberg. Voice recordings are captured when the Alexa wake word is spoken and then a subset of those recordings are listened to, transcribed, annotated, and added back into the software as part of Amazon's effort to help Alexa better respond to voice commands. Amazon has facilities for Alexa improvement in places that range from Boston to Costa Rica, India, and Romania. Seven people familiar with Amazon's review process spoke to Bloomberg and revealed some insider details on the program that may be concerning to Echo users. While much of the work has been described as "mundane," employees have sometimes come across more private recordings, such as a woman singing off key in the shower or a child screaming for help. Amazon employees have internal chat rooms where they share files when help is needed parsing a word or, more concerning, when an "amusing recording" is found. Two workers told Bloomberg that they've heard recordings that are upsetting or potentially criminal, and while Amazon claims to have procedures in place for such occurrences, some employees have been told it's not the company's job to interfere.Sometimes they hear recordings they find upsetting, or possibly criminal. Two of the workers said they picked up what they believe was a sexual assault. When something like that happens, they may share the experience in the internal chat room as a way of relieving stress. Amazon says it has procedures in place for

HomePod Estimated to Have Just 4% Market Share Worldwide Despite 45% Sales Growth Last Quarter

HomePod shipments totaled 1.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2018, a 45 percent increase on a year-over-year basis, according to Strategy Analytics. Despite the growth, the research firm estimates that Apple's share of the worldwide smart speaker market was just 4.1 percent during the quarter. By comparison, Amazon and Google commanded the market with an estimated 13.7 million and 11.5 million smart speakers shipments respectively. The two companies combined for an estimated 65.5 percent market share in the quarter. A lot of this comes down to pricing. At $349, the HomePod is significantly more expensive than the Amazon Echo and Google Home. In particular, the smaller Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini models were available for as low as $25 during the holiday season, a fraction of the cost of a HomePod. "Amazon and Google both have broad model lineups, ranging from basic to high-end, with even more variants from Amazon. Apple of course has only its premium-priced HomePod, and likely won't gain significant share until it offers an entry-level product closer to Echo Dot and Home mini," CIRP co-founder Josh Lowitz said last month. To improve sales, many resellers offered the HomePod for $249 during the holiday season, and $279 is a commonly seen price too. Second is the fact that the HomePod is not so smart, as many reviews found, due to Siri's shortcomings compared to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Apple recently restructured its Siri team as it works to make improvements.

Amazon Pulls Echo Wall Clock Over Connectivity Issues

Amazon has pulled its Echo Wall Clock over concerns about connectivity issues, just a little over a month since it began shipping the product. The Wall Clock's lack of availability on the Amazon website was first spotted by The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern before being confirmed by Amazon in a statement given to The Verge. "We're aware that a small number of customers have had issues with connectivity. We're working hard to address this and plan to make Echo Wall Clock available again in the coming weeks."Announced in September along with several other Alexa-enabled products, Amazon's Wall Clock costs $29.99 and performs the expected Alexa and Echo tasks while also telling the time. It runs on four AA batteries and connects to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for setup, but requires the user to own a standard Echo to access all the features, which include displaying timers on the clock face. Customers who received a clock before they were delisted and have experienced connectivity issues are advised to contact Amazon to arrange a

Apple Music Now Playable on Amazon Echo Speakers via Alexa in United States

Apple Music can now be streamed on Amazon Echo speakers via Alexa in the United States, a few days ahead of schedule. As spotted by 9to5Mac, it is now possible to link Apple Music with your Amazon account in the Alexa app for iPhone and use Alexa voice commands to control playback of songs, playlists, and Beats 1 on Apple Music on Amazon Echo speakers. To access this feature, simply use a voice command such as "Alexa, play music by Ed Sheeran on Apple Music" or "Alexa, play today's hits on Apple Music." Apple Music can also be set as the default music service in the Alexa app, so that "Apple Music" does not need to be specified each time. Other streaming music services supported on Echo speakers include Spotify, Deezer, Vevo, SiriusXM, Tidal, and Pandora. Apple and Amazon announced this new partnership in late November, with Amazon saying it is "committed to offering great music providers to our customers," and referring to Apple Music as "one of the most popular music services." Apple Music playback on Amazon Echo speakers is currently limited to the United

Apple Music to Launch on Amazon's Echo Devices the Week of December 17

Apple and Amazon today announced that Apple Music will launch on Echo devices beginning the week of December 17. In a blog post, Amazon explains that Apple Music subscribers will be able to ask Alexa to play their favorite songs, artist, playlists, Beats1 radio stations, and albums, all through an Echo speaker. One example they give is the command, "Alexa, play Bebe Rexha on Apple Music." The integration will launch as an Apple Music skill that will need to be enabled within the Alexa app, where users will also be able to link their account to start listening to Apple Music on an Echo speaker. Apple Music will join the ranks of a few other music streaming services already supported on Echo, including Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. “Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa—since we launched Alexa four years ago, customers are listening to more music in their homes than ever before,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon Devices. “We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we’ve expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top tier services. We’re thrilled to bring Apple Music – one of the most popular music services in the US – to Echo customers this holiday.” Apple Music is said to have over 56 million total subscribers, including those on the free trial. The company is in a battle with Spotify as each tries to grow their numbers. In November, Spotify reported 87 million paid subscribers on its service, and 191 million monthly

Amazon Reveals New Alexa-Compatible Echo Speakers, Subwoofer, Amplifiers, Microwave, Wall Clock, and More

Amazon held a big hardware event today at The Seattle Spheres, located at Amazon's headquarters campus in Washington state. The event was notable for Amazon, with senior vice president of Amazon Devices Dave Limp stating that it marked the largest number of devices and features that Amazon has ever debuted in one day. The first product unveiling was a new and upgraded Echo Dot, which includes a brand new mic array for better performance. The company says the driver is much larger -- increasing from 1.1" to a 1.6" driver -- resulting in more powerful sound with lower distortion, enhanced bass reproduction, and increased overall max volume. Echo Dot Through all of the upgrades, Echo Dot's footprint still hasn't increased and the price will remain at $49.99, just like previous generations. The new Echo Dot ships in October, and pre-orders go up today. There's also a new mainline Echo device, the new Echo Plus. This generation has more powerful sound with stronger bass and clearer playback. There's a new equalizer feature that lets you use your voice to adjust the bass and treble through Alexa, a built-in smart home hub so you can set up devices by stating "Alexa, discover my devices," and an integrated temperature sensor so you can trigger routines based on how cool or hot the room is. Image via The Verge Echo Plus will cost $149.99 and is up for pre-order today before its October launch.

Amazon's Alexa Recorded a Woman's Private Conversation and Sent it to a Contact

A woman in Portland recently had an alarming experience with her Alexa-enabled devices after a private conversation was recorded and sent to a random contact, according to a news report from Seattle's Kiro7 news. The woman, Danielle, and her family had Amazon devices situated in each room for home control, and two weeks ago, one of those devices apparently recorded a conversation about hardwood floors and sent it to a person on their contact list. There are no details on how the recording was delivered to the contact. But Danielle said two weeks ago their love for Alexa changed with an alarming phone call. "The person on the other line said, 'unplug your Alexa devices right now,'" she said. "'You're being hacked.'" That person was one of her husband's employees, calling from Seattle. "We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house," she said. "At first, my husband was, like, 'no you didn't!' And the (recipient of the message) said 'You sat there talking about hardwood floors.' And we said, 'oh gosh, you really did hear us.'"Danielle confirmed that the recordings received by the contact were indeed conversations picked up by her Alexa device, and in no way was she informed that Alexa was sending the recording to a contact. She contacted Amazon and was told that the "device just guessed what we were saying." Amazon apologized and told her it would fix the issue. Alexa has an option to send a message to a contact name using a voice recording, but Alexa is supposed to vocally confirm such

Alexa App on iPad Can Now Initiate Phone/Video Calls and Send Messages to Echo Devices

Amazon is now allowing users to make phone calls, video calls, and send messages from an iPad, Android, or Fire tablet to an Alexa-enabled Echo device. Previously, users had to activate calls or send messages using an Echo, so now it should be easier to communicate within Amazon's Alexa ecosystem (via Engadget). To receive calls, users need any device with the Alexa app installed or an Echo speaker. The update also introduces Drop In support for the Alexa app on iPads and other tablets, meaning that iPad users can quickly send a message to someone near an Echo in a different room. Engadget noted that the new features are easiest to access on Amazon's own Fire HD 10 tablet, where Alexa is supported across the software, but iPad users will of course first have to open the Alexa iOS app to initiate calls and send messages. Amazon's Alexa assistant has been in the news recently for scaring some users after creepily laughing for no apparent reason. Amazon has acknowledged the events and said it's working on a fix to roll out to affected users. Additionally, late last week Alexa gained a new "Follow-Up Mode," which lets the assistant respond to multiple questions in quick succession, without requiring the user to repeat the "Alexa" wake up command. Amazon Alexa is available on the iOS App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Amazon Working on a Fix for Alexa Devices Scaring Users With Creepy Laughter

For the past couple of weeks, speakers equipped with Amazon's Alexa voice-based personal assistant have been randomly laughing, scaring and creeping out speaker owners who have affected devices. Complaints have been surfacing on Twitter, Reddit, and other social media platforms over the course of the last few weeks, but the issue started receiving widespread attention this week after it was shared on BuzzFeed. From Reddit:A friend of mine at work just a couple of days ago told me this very thing happened at his moms house. He was face timing with his her(he jokes she is jealous of Alexa, his dad just loves it) and out of the blue in the background Alexa started to laugh, he even heard it on his end. Said it was super creepy. I'm waiting the have the holy hell scared out of me one quiet evening...or even worse, awakened by the one a foot from my head while I'm sleeping. Some audio examples of the Alexa laugh, with a humorous skit from Jimmy Kimmel included In a statement provided to The Verge this morning, Amazon said that it is aware that some Alexa-enabled devices are randomly laughing and a fix is in the works. "We're aware of this and working to fix it," Amazon said. So Alexa decided to laugh randomly while I was in the kitchen. Freaked @SnootyJuicer and I out. I thought a kid was laughing behind me. pic.twitter.com/6dblzkiQHp— CaptHandlebar (@CaptHandlebar) February 23, 2018 Customers who have an Alexa-enabled device and are creeped out by the random and unprompted laughs may want to turn off their speakers until Amazon is able to locate the issue and push

Smart Speaker Survey States iPhone Owners 22 Percent More Likely to Buy Speakers, Favor Amazon Over Google

In January, Voicebot.ai surveyed 1,057 Americans over the age of 18 regarding their ownership or interest in smart speakers, and today the researchers have published their final report with the results. While the data precedes Apple's entry into the market with HomePod in February, it does include a few points of data regarding iPhone/iOS users and their interest in smart speakers, prevalent long before rumblings about Apple's HomePod began. Specifically, the Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report states that iPhone owners are 22 percent more likely to own a smart speaker compared to non-Apple smartphone owners. Of the smart speakers on the market besides HomePod, iPhone users are 30 percent less likely to own a Google Home and favor devices like Amazon Echo. Graphs via Voicebot.ai In fact, Voicebot.ai argued that Apple and Amazon are likely companions in "multi-manufacturer households," where HomePod is purchased as a "luxury item for music listening" and Echo is used for more "utilitarian tasks." iOS users are attractive consumers and far more likely to own a smart speaker overall, but far less likely to own a Google device. However, the data also suggests that Google is at less risk of losing share to Apple HomePod than Amazon. Apple and Amazon may be the focus of multi-manufacturer households where HomePod is a luxury item for music listening in living spaces while Echo products get placed in the kitchen and bedrooms for utilitarian tasks. In addition, iPhone owners are a good fit for Amazon because they are far more likely to have made a purchase by voice

Amazon Starts Taking Pre-Orders from U.K. Customers for Echo Spot

Amazon began taking pre-orders from U.K. customers for its Alexa-powered Echo Spot speaker on Tuesday. Announced along with all-new Echo models in September 2017, the compact display-and-speaker unit has only been available in the U.S. before now. The Spot is capable of standard Amazon Echo functions like controlling smart home devices and streaming music, but can also show users additional information like song lyrics, weather forecasts, and the time on its 2.5-inch display. The circular unit can also play content from Amazon Video and YouTube, just like its bigger brother, the Echo Show. The Echo Spot costs £120, although Amazon is currently offering a discount of £20 per unit when two are bought together (£200). Pre-orders are expected to ship on January 24, which means the entire Echo family will be available to U.K. customers from then on. The Echo dot was the top-selling Amazon device over the 2017 holiday season, as well as "the best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon," according to the e-commerce company. As Amazon's Alexa devices continue to dominate the smart speaker market, Apple has plans to release its own music-focused smart speaker device, called HomePod, early this year. HomePod will be controlled mainly through the user's voice using Siri, and include access to Apple Music and other expected smart speaker functionalities, like asking about the weather, traffic, setting reminders, timers, and more. Note: MacRumors may benefit from affiliate links clicked in this article

Amazon Aims for Echo Speakers in Every Office With 'Alexa for Business'

Amazon's aim to bring its highly popular at-home Echo smart speaker into the workplace got underway on Thursday with the launch of Alexa for Business. The announcement, made at the company's annual Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, sets the stage for Amazon's vision to make its virtual assistant the essential office accessory, able to book conference rooms, launch meetings, and order stationery. Alexa already has features amenable to an office environment, such as the ability to make calls, operate lights, and check security camera feeds. Now Amazon wants developers to build the virtual assistant into apps that manage work calendars, find open meeting rooms, and order supplies. As an intelligent assistant at work, Alexa for Business makes starting a conference call as simple as asking Alexa to "start the meeting." Alexa for Business can help workers manage calendars, keep up with to-do lists, and make phone calls. Around the office, Alexa for Business can handle tasks like notifying IT of an equipment issue, or finding and booking an open conference room—all with just a few words.However, it's unclear how many companies will want to buy Echo speakers for every conference room, given the potential security implications of an "always listening" device. Amazon says its Echo speakers don't send anything to the cloud until users wake the devices by invoking them by name. However, Amazon does store requests in the cloud, which it says are used to help improve AI and develop new skills for the speakers. Amazon sold "millions" of Alexa devices over the holiday shopping

Amazon 'Echo Buttons' Trivia Game Accessories Now Available to Pre-Order

Amazon has made its Echo Buttons, the company's "first Alexa gadgets", available to pre-order on its U.S. website. First announced in September, the $20 accessories come in packs of two and are designed to allow Amazon Echo owners to play family trivia games with the voice-activated smart speakers. About 3 inches (76mm) wide and 1.5 inches (38mm) tall, the Echo Buttons each have a multi-color LED on top that lights up the push button. The devices are powered by two triple-A batteries and connect to Echo speakers via Bluetooth. Amazon says the buttons will work with four Alexa skills when they ship on December 19 in time for the holidays, including name-that-song game "Beat the Intro" and "Fourth Down Football Trivia", with support for more sound effect and quiz games expected further down the line. The Echo Buttons are compatible with all old and new Echo devices as well as the forthcoming Echo Spot, but they don't work with the Amazon Tap, Amazon Fire TV, or any other non-Echo device. Note: This article includes affiliate links and MacRumors may benefit if you click on them

Apple's Early Version of HomePod Stood Three Feet Tall and Packed Dozens of Speakers

While the HomePod was only unveiled five months ago, a team of Apple audio engineers developed several speaker prototypes as a side project over the past five years or so, according to Bloomberg. HomePod was originally a side project cooked up about five years ago by a group of Mac audio engineers, who wanted to create a speaker that sounded better than the ones sold by the likes of Bose, JBL, and Harman Kardon. Side projects aren't uncommon at Apple, where employees are encouraged to follow their muse so long as their day jobs come first.The report claims one of the prototypes stood three feet tall, roughly five times as tall as the current HomePod, and was equipped with dozens of speakers. Another supposedly looked like a flat panel with a mesh screen on the front. The side project was reportedly canceled and revived several times. It wasn't until 2014 that development of the speaker began to ramp up within Apple's accessories division, which also worked on the wireless AirPods. Apple's focus was on creating a speaker with premium sound quality through the use of beam-forming speaker technology. The report claims Apple tested many variations of the speaker in specially designed audio chambers. That same year, the report adds that Apple engineers were "blindsided" when Amazon launched its Echo speaker integrated with its voice-activated personal assistant Alexa, which is considered a hit with customers.The Apple engineers jokingly accused one another of leaking details of their project to Amazon, then bought Echos so they could take them apart and see how

Amazon Rolls Out Alexa Device Messaging and Calling to U.K. and Germany

Amazon is updating its Alexa app today to add support for messaging and calling on Alexa-powered smart devices in the U.K., Germany, and Austria (via The Verge). The second-generation Echo in Charcoal Fabric The Alexa voice calling feature will work on standard Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, allowing users to call the devices free of charge. iPhone and Android owners can also use the Alexa app to call the Alexa-powered devices directly. Amazon's second-generation Echo devices hit Europe on October 31 and support the feature as standard, while video calling is limited to the display-based Echo Show device, which is set to become available in the U.K. and Germany next