Over the past two years, Amazon has held events in September announcing new Echo/Alexa devices. That means there’s a good possibility that it’s going to happen again this year, although Amazon has been mum so far on whether that’s the case.
The 2017 announcement was a gaggle of surprises: Amazon introduced the Echo Spot, a cute little alarm clock with Alexa and a screen, the Echo Plus smart home hub, Echo Buttons for family game night, and more. It also released an updated version of the original Echo.
As Google continues to encroach on Amazon’s smart home domination, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Amazon announce some new devices again this year in a bid to compete, especially with Google’s fall hardware event coming up on October 9. So, what could Amazon announce? Here are our best guesses, some evidence-based, others a combination of wild conjecture and wishful thinking.
The Echo Show was the very first smart display, that is, a smart speaker featuring a voice assistant and a screen. The device allows you to have a visual to go with Alexa’s voice, so, for example, you can say, “Alexa, show me how to make hard boiled eggs,” and you can watch an instructional video rather than just getting verbal instructions from a regular Echo device. The screen feature makes the kitchen a handy place to keep the Echo Show.
But recent competition from Google has made the Echo Show seem antiquated. Google has partnered with third-party manufacturers Lenovo, JBL, and LG to make competing smart displays featuring Google Assistant voice technology. All of the devices can play YouTube videos (something the Show cannot do) and either have better sound, display, or both. The Lenovo Smart Display features a crystal-clear display, a beautifully streamlined shape, and two different sizes. The JBL Linkview has booming sound, something the Show lacks.
To stay ahead in the voice assistant market, Amazon needs to introduce a smart display that can compete with Google. And with the Echo Show being discounted by as much as half off its $230 price on Amazon for months now and out of stock in several brick-and-mortar stores, we think there’s a high probability Amazon will announce a newer version of the device just in time for the holidays.
It’s been a couple years since Amazon’s most popular Alexa device got a face-lift, so it makes sense that we’ll see a newer version this fall. We actually reported on leaked photos of a possible new Echo Dot in July, with the $50 device looking like a hybrid of its regular form and a Google Home Mini, with fabric around the edges. According to rumors, the new Dot is currently in testing mode among Amazon employees and reportedly has better sound quality than the present Echo Dot.
While the current Dot is one of Amazon’s most popular devices, it will never win any sound awards (you can connect the device to a solid-sounding speaker, though). But the Google Home Mini sounds better, and a whole bunch of third-party smart speakers with Alexa voice integration are hitting the market. Amazon could stand to improve on the sound of the Dot to make it more competitive, and maybe even permanently drop the price on it as well. Overall, we’d say there’s a solid chance that a new version is on the way.
Have you ever been driving in your car, or, say, at the beach, and wished you could talk to Alexa? Is that just us? Oh. Well, if your home is all about #TeamAlexa, it makes sense that you’d want to access all the information that Alexa holds not just when you’re inside, but also when you’re outside your home. That’s why we’re hoping that Amazon introduces a legit portable Alexa speaker or device that you can take anywhere, car included.
Sure, there’s the Tap, the battery-powered Alexa device, but it’s no longer available on Amazon, and always felt a little bit like the weird distant cousin who no one invites to family dinners. It makes sense for Amazon to revamp the Tap or introduce another device that gives us a way to bring Alexa with us (although hopefully not through another Fire Phone). We don’t care what the mechanism is, we just want to talk to Alexa while driving.
In Amazon’s quest to dominate the smart home, it has gobbled up two home security companies in the past year: Ring and Blink. Ring, pioneer of the video doorbell, also has a line of outdoor home security cameras and a recently released Ring Alarm home monitoring system. But despite the sale, integration between Amazon Alexa and Ring devices has remained minimal. We were disappointed that the Ring Alarm system doesn’t work with Alexa (although we have been told by Ring that the integration is coming).
If there’s an Amazon event, it’s possible that Ring could be making some device announcements of its own. As it pertains to Amazon, the possibilities are endless: Maybe a new video doorbell that works with Amazon Key and the Cloud Cam? A video smart lock? Who knows.
We’ve heard less about Blink, which makes wireless indoor and outdoor cameras, but it’s fair to assume that the devices will eventually feature more integration with Amazon. Blink is also supposed to release a video doorbell any day now as well. It’s possible new Blink hardware news could be rolled into any Amazon announcements.
Amazon has been known to surprise us (they’re famously mum on about just about everything), so there’s really no way of knowing whether there will be an announcement, and if so, what they might come up with next. Here are a couple additional wish list items we want to see.
A Fire TV with Alexa speaker built in
Isn’t it time to just eliminate the middle man and put it all together? The Fire TV Cube is awesome, don’t get us wrong, but one device that fully integrates Amazon Alexa and operation of our TVs seems like a logical step. Buy a Fire TV with Alexa and you’re set for controlling your locks, your lights, and more, all while watching the game.
Echo Plus with built-in Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols
The current Echo Plus only supports Zigbee protocols, meaning that if you have a smart device with Z-Wave technology, you can’t use the Echo Plus smart hub to control it (there are workarounds, but it’s not seamless). Why not add the Z-Wave in to make it a full-fledged smart home hub?
Regardless of what happens, we’re sure that the company, like always, will keep us on our toes. Of course, we’ll update you the minute we hear any news.
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