Wow, what a week for the smart home! With big news from the likes of Google and Amazon, we take a look at the five big stories that caught our eye this week in the world of IOT.
Amazon introduces the Echo Spot
In the first of many news stories coming from Amazon this week, we got our first look at the Echo Spot. Not content with the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Look, and Echo Show, Amazon has shown off a new device called the Echo Spot which shares much functionality with the aforementioned devices but with a new form factor. It has to be said, this gorgeous looking tennis ball-sized device garnered much attention when we finally gazed upon it at the Seattle launch earlier this week, and for good reason. First impressions look great, and for those of you who thought the Echo Show was a little ‘ugly’, this new member of the family could just sway you enough to delve into the Amazon ecosystem if you already haven’t. For more info, check out this article in The Verge.
Amazon upgrades the original Echo and introduces a supercharged sibling
You were warned, this week is heavy on the Amazon news! The original Echo has now been upgraded with slightly better internals than the original, along with a slightly redesigned chassis, but the real interesting part to this story is the emergence of the Echo Plus. The Echo Plus takes all of the things you love about the original, and adds the ability to make this your default home hub for your smart devices to connect directly to. Now with Zigbee compatibility included, you no longer have the need to use a separate hub to connect your Philips lights, or your Ikea, Belkin, or SmartThings devices either. For those who are teetering on the edge of the Amazon ecosystem, this could be a great starting point for you to dive in from. Techradar has a great article about the nuances between the old and new Echos, so head on over here, if you want to know more.
Google is working on an Echo Show competitor
In news you could file under “we saw that coming”, Google has reportedly been working on an Amazon Show competitor. While the device itself was not universally loved, the idea behind the Echo Show was generally well received, and it seems that Google has taken note of this and started work on their own version. Multiple sources have told Engadget that Google’s version will likely be a similar 7 inch device, capable of similar functionality to the Show. For more information on this, head over to Engadget and drink it all in.
No more Youtube on Show
In related news, you can no longer indulge in a Youtube marathon on your Echo Show. Google have pulled the plug on compatibility with the Amazon device, which seems to point to their own device (see above) being just around the corner. This will be highly annoying for Show owners, and not exactly Google’s usual tack when it comes to dealing with competitors. However, “The big G” has gone and done just that, leaving all those Show users flapping in the wind, while they look for cooking recipes on their tablets and phones instead. The Verge has more on this, here.
More devices coming to the Amazon family
And finally, more Amazon news! Along with the new Spot, Echo and Echo plus, say hello to the Echo Tap, and Echo Buttons. The Tap is basically an Echo that has been given the freedom to move. Smaller than the Echo, this little cylinder sits atop of an included charger, but when you want to take Alexa into the garden, or to a bedroom, you simply pick it up, and go. This Wi-Fi only device is perfect for those want to stream music while outside cooking up a storm on the BBQ, or perhaps for the family that doesn’t want to buy Alexa products for every room in the house. With 9 hours of battery life, there is no reason you couldn’t take this ‘Echo mini’ to the park for a picnic either, and simply tether it to your phone.
The Echo Buttons are basically multicolored devices that connect to the Echo for gaming. Fancy gathering the family around the Echo for a game of Jeopardy? These little buttons will provide you with ‘buzzers’ to push, that will hopefully stop any arguments over who answered the question first. A gimmick perhaps, but at $19.99 upon release, they could make a good stocking filler come Christmas for any family already entrenched in the Amazon ecosystem. Head over to Pocket Lint for more details on all of Amazon’s new family members.