Amazon made a series of announcements today as it tries to insinuate its Alexa voice technology into people’s homes and vehicles. It seems likely Amazon uses data gathered through its hardware and voice technology to better understand your shopping, consumption, and entertainment viewing habits, giving it an advantage over rival retailers.
First up among today’s announcements: the next-gen Amazon Echo and Echo Plus. The next generation of its Echo home-assistant/speaker includes a smart-home hub to connect devices that control lights, appliances, and locks, and also comes with programmable voice commands called routines (for example, you can program it so that when you simply say, “Alexa, good morning,” Alexa will turn on the lights, start your coffee pot, and read the day’s weather forecast).
It also introduced Echo Spot, which has a smaller design and a circular screen “so that Alexa can show you things.”
Amazon also announced that carmaker BMW will integrate Alexa into its vehicles next year (“Ask Alexa in-car to get directions, call a business, play music or Audible content, control your smart home, check the news, and more while you’re on the go – without downloading a separate app.”)
And finally, Amazon launched a new Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR). Amazon said it would offer “even better hands-free content experience” on Fire TV. “We’re continuing to work with partners like Hulu, SHOWTIME, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, CBS All Access, NBC, Bravo, CNBC, and NBC News to add increased app functionality that lets you use your voice to rewind, fast forward, and play content with commands like “Alexa, change the channel to NBC in Hulu” or “Alexa, play Ray Donovan in SHOWTIME.””