Things That You Didn’t Know About Amazon Echo 2
After the successful release of Amazon Echo in 2014, it has been speculated that Amazon Echo 2 will soon be following its footsteps in the later part of 2016. Amazon and Flextronics have been working on this new version, overhauling some of the ideas from its predecessor, to make the speaker more appealing to the consumers and to compete with Google Home, which is said to be released this year, too.
Amazon Echo, developed and manufactured by Amazon, is the first voice-enabled wireless speaker that is capable of voice recognition and interaction, music streaming, and real-time information delivery. In other words, it is a virtual assistant lodged into a device with the use of wireless internet connection. The first version of this device has garnered an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 30,000 Amazon Echo users.
Design and Portability
Despite the overhaul on Amazon Echo, Amazon retained the sleek design for version 2.0, which makes it look like a mini dehumidifier. The device still sports a cylindrical shape and matte black color for its exterior. Its minimalistic look allows it to compliment any home interior furnishing. At the bottom of the grill is the Amazon logo printed in white.
The new version of the Amazon Echo is said to be a vertical version of Beats Pill 2.O speaker, but with more features. According to The Wall Street Journal, the device, which only stands at around 45.72 mm x 190.5 mm, “is designed to fit comfortably in the palm of a user’s hand, like a beer can”.
Unlike the first Amazon Echo, the newer version has a charging dock instead of the usual A/C plug. This will give the newer version a better battery life, thus addressing the recurring issue of the previous Echo.
Voice Recognition System
The device has seven microphones that allow it to hear from 20 to 30 feet away. Its microphones are so sensitive that it can easily hear sounds and noises despite the music playing in the background.
It has voice recognition system called the Alexa Voice Service, or simply Alexa. Alexa is a self-learning command module. It saves feedbacks and then processes them in cloud. Once the device updates itself, the data is transmitted to the device. The more you use it, the smarter it gets. It can adapt to your vocabulary, speech patterns and your preference. It is highly capable of playing music, answering general questions, setting the alarm, ordering pizza, etc. If you have a command, you only have to start with saying the word “Alexa” and it will be able to process it. Since Alexa Skills Kit is a collection of APIs, code samples, and tools, it’s easy for the developers to add more skills to it. Now, it can answer to over 1,400 commands. Users can enable them simply by saying “Alexa, enable” instead of retrieving their phones, finding the skill, and turning the device on.
Aside from the Alexa, Amazon Echo 2 also has two other wake words: Echo and Amazon.
Alexa allows the user to connect to the different smart devices that are ran or developed by Amazon’s partners, amely EcoBee, Nest, Samsung, SmartThings, Phillips HUE, Wink and the most recent, Nucleus. People can now turn off the lights or TV just by saying “Alexa, Turn off the lights” or “Alexa, turn off the TV’. The speaker is also compatible with IOS, Android and Fire OS. Users can now download the Alexa app in their respective mobile stores.
With Echo 2 and its corresponding app, people no longer have to stand up when they need to do something like setting the alarm, playing music, or looking for the newest headlines. With the device, they can just use voice commands to accomplish tasks.
Operation of controls
The device comes with a remote control, which can adjust the volume, deactivate the voice recognition system, or manually stream music. The remote also has a voice command button that allows the user to speak through it and use it as a microphone. This makes it more convenient for a person to give commands even when they’re currently in another room.
Aside from the remote control, users can also use the manual controls on top of the device. There, one can find two buttons with two different functions: mute and listen. The upper ring of the canister can be rotated to manually to increase or decrease the volume of the sound.
The 360-degree speaker has a 2.5-inch woofer for playing deep bass and 2.0-inch tweeter for playing clean high notes. It’s expertly tuned so that it can fill a whole room with an immersive sound. Assuming that it’s the same as its predecessor, then the sound system might work better in an open area and emit the same distorted sound when the volume is at its highest. This is something people have yet to investigate.
The Amazon Echo 2 comes with a voice training app, which allows the device to understand the user’s voice commands. When you ask it to play music, it will stream songs from different music streaming site like Amazon Prime, Spotify and iHeartRadio, Pandora and much more. It’s also compatible with Audible and Kindle, so you can enjoy listening to audiobooks and text-to-speech eBooks.
The speaker can also access Google Calendar which allows users to check schedules and upcoming events. They can use voice commands when setting appointments and other activities.
In an effort to bring Alexa outside the home, Amazon has made Echo 2 compatible with called Yelp, an application that allows users to check business establishment around the vicinity. So when you give a booking command to Alexa, you will be redirected to Yelp.
Amazon has not given a price for the new Amazon Echo, but it’s most likely to be lower than the price of the current one, which currently stands at $179.99. For more updates and information about the official release and specification of Amazon Echo 2, you can visit Amazon.com.