Amazon reportedly working on smaller, cheaper Echo digital assistantBy Shawn Knight
Amazon is said to be working on a new version of its Echo voice-controlled digital assistant. The next Echo will be smaller - portable, even - although it'll lose some of its creature comforts in the process according to people familiar with Amazon's plans as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Codenamed Fox, the next Echo will reportedly be small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. The Journal likened it to a beer can although something along the lines of a vertical Beats Pill Bluetooth speaker also comes to mind.
Unlike the current iteration, Amazon's latest will ditch the always-listening aspect in favor of a push-button format. This change was reportedly necessitated by the fact that the new Echo will pack an internal battery for cordless operation (having an always-listening function would prematurely drain the battery).
A Singapore-based company by the name of Flextronics International is helping Amazon build the device, we're told.
Amazon unveiled its peculiar Echo in November of 2014. As a follow-up to its disastrous Fire phone, many didn't expect much from the Echo yet surprisingly enough, it's a hit with users. The device has an average star rating of 4.3 out of 5.0 from the more than 30,000 customer reviews on Amazon's site. Amazon hasn't released official sales figures.
The new Amazon Echo is expected to debut in the coming weeks. No word yet on price although it's almost guaranteed to be cheaper than the full-size model that currently commands $179.99.
Image courtesy Mark Lennihan, Associated Press