Amazon’s Echo ecosystem expands with the petite Dot and portable Tap speakers

This morning, Amazon formally announced the arrival of the Echo Dot and Echo Tap, miniaturized and less expensive versions of the Internet retailer’s super-smart, voice-activated wireless speaker. In case you’re not familiar, Amazon first introduced the Echo in November of 2014. It features Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant, which can do all kinds of stuff for you.

For music, the Echo can access Amazon’s Prime Music catalog, Spotify, Pandora and other popular Internet music stations. It can answer a huge range of questions, from what the weather will be like to sports scores, and what’s on TV that night. And, the Echo adds new features practically every month. It now controls a wide range of smart home devices, which has really pushed its popularity upward.

The only problem was, at $180, some saw it as a bit pricey. Now, Amazon has options. The $90 Echo Dot does have a tiny speaker built in, so it could be used in the bedroom as, say, an alarm clock, but it is designed to work with any existing Bluetooth speakers you might have, or connected to your existing stereo system with an aux cable.

The Echo Tap, on the other hand, is a portable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker with a rechargeable battery built in and full-range stereo speakers, making it a lot more versatile.

There’s a catch, though. To get the Dot you have to order it through an Echo speaker, or using Alexa on a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, keeping it in the cool club for now, though wide release is expected in the next couple of months. As for the Tap, it’s available for pre-order at the link below.

Apple Support comes to Twitter

Apple is taking to Twitter to enhance its customer support. Called @AppleSupport, the new Twitter account will be used to tweet tips and tricks and help users with any Apple product questions they may have, which should include some troubleshooting help so you don’t have to go out of your way to sort through thousands of forum posts OR visit your bro down at the “Genius Bar.” The account has only been up for a few hours and already has over 52,000 followers.

VR for Roller Coasters

Finally, can we start getting excited about Spring and Summer now? Sure, the weather is terrible all across the US right now, but there is sunshine in sight, and that means we get to return to sunny activities which, if you’re like us, includes theme parks, specifically those with kick-ass roller coasters. And this year, you might start seeing a new addition to your favorite coasters: Virtual Reality.

Six Flags is rolling out VR enhancements to the rides at nine of its parks in the US this year.

As if their coasters weren’t exciting enough, the thrill-nuts at Six Flags look to take the gravity-defying feeling you get from a coaster, but replace what you see on the ride with VR landscapes. So, if you’re on the Superman ride, for instance, you’ll be flying through Metropolis at 200+ miles per hour rather than just staring at the loops and dips in front of you.

We can’t to give it a go. In fact, we’re pretty sure Digital Trends needs to cover this in-depth so … we’re gonna go pack our bags. Meanwhile, you can like us on Facebook, subscribe to our YouTube channel if you please, and we’ll see you right back here tomorrow.

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