Amazon didn’t hold back at its Devices Event on Wednesday, unleashing more than a dozen new products. And Alexa was the star of the show, of course, with new kid-friendly skills, privacy features, and Alexa-connected products from the regular old Echo Dot to a smart ring and glasses that connect to the virtual assistant. You’ll even soon be able to replace Alexa’s default voice with Samuel L. Jackson’s.
If you missed the event and want to catch up, here’s everything that Amazon announced on Wednesday.
Wearables: Alexa in everything
Three different Alexa wearables were introduced at the event. Now you can use Alexa hands-free with Echo Buds, Amazon’s first smart earbuds, Echo Frames, an Alexa-enabled pair of glasses, and Echo Loop, an Alexa-powered ring. The earbuds have five hours battery life and come with a charging case and Bose Active Noise Reduction technology. The glasses, which can be altered to your prescription needs, have a built-in speaker, but they don’t project Alexa answers onto the lenses, unfortunately. The ring can pair with your phone and vibrate when you get a call and provide other handy functions. Echo Buds are up for pre-order for $129.99 and will ship in October. Echo Frames and Echo Loop are currently “invite only” items.
Check out our hands-on review for first impressions on Amazon’s three new Alexa-connected wearables.
New Alexa features
According to Amazon, there are now more than 100,000 Alexa skills. Many new skills and features were announced today.
You can now ask, “Alexa, tell me what you heard.” Alexa will then read to you all of your most recent voice requests. Coming later this year you can ask, “Alexa, why did you do that,” and Alexa will be able to explain to you why she responded to your voice command.
Alexa will also be getting new celebrity voices, starting with Samuel L. Jackson, and Multilingual Mode — meaning Alexa will be able to speak more than one language for multilingual families. In the United States Alexa will be able to speak and understand English and Spanish at once; in India the feature will work with Indian English and Hindi; and in Canada the feature will work with Canadian English and French.
Thanks to new neural text to speech technology, Alexa is becoming more emotive and expressive, too. For example, now she can sound excited and she can sense when you’re frustrated.
In addition to other new Alexa features, there’s Alexa Guest Connect. With this feature, you can say, “Alexa, connect my account,” and connect to existing devices when you travel.
Discovery, Inc. and Food Network announced Food Network Kitchen and Alexa is their exclusive voice service. This new service provides live and on-demand episodes of Food Network TV shows on Echo Show. When you spot a recipe you like on a show, you can ask Alexa to save it. There will also be live and on-demand cooking classes from Food Network chefs like Alton Brown or Giada.
The new Alexa Education Skill API will allow you to connect with programs your child’s school may use. So, you’ll be able to use Alexa to check on your child’s grades or see if they have any homework assignments.
There are also two new types of Alexa Hunches. She can have hunches about things that may need repairs or updated around the house, or have hunches about routines you may want to make.
Want Alexa to answer your door? Now she can, and even talk to visitors through your Ring doorbell. This feature will become available through the Ring Video Doorbell Elite next year.
In other Alexa security news, there have been two new improvements to Alexa Guard. Now, according to Amazon when you say “Alexa I’m off to work,” Alexa will switch into away mode. In this mode she will lock your door and turn on your exterior lights. She can also listen for sounds when in away mode and alert you if she hears anything that may sound like an intruder.
Alexa Connect Kit has been updated, as well. Amazon has added “new multi-step capabilities so that devices can feed telemetry to the cloud, make new decisions about operations, and give new instructions to devices—so any device can keep getting smarter just like Alexa.” They have also added new cooking capabilities like preheat your oven, temperature and scan to cook.
In addition to integration with Audi, BMW, Ford, and Toyota, Alexa has been added to more cars. Now GM brands, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC, will have Alexa capabilities.
Privacy Hub Option
Amazon announced the ability to have Privacy Hub voice recordings older than three months or 18 months automatically deleted on an ongoing basis. This new feature is an opt-in.
Echo Dot with Clock
The first new gadget to hit the stage was the Echo Dot with Clock. It’s basically the Echo Dot, but with an LED clock on the front that can also display the temperature. It also features a tap to snooze capability. It’s available for pre-order starting today, for $59.99.
All-new Amazon Echo
The next device is an all-new Amazon Echo. It will come in Charcoal, Sandstone and Heather Gray and new Twilight Blue. The fabric covered device features better sound, neodymium drivers, 3-inch woofer and increased back volume for stronger bass. Amazon also says the mids and highs are clearer.
Echo Studio is another new device unveiled today. It is the first smart speaker that has 3D audio from Dolby Atmos. “Echo Studio is the most innovative speaker we’ve ever built. It produces unbelievable sound, with space, clarity, and depth,” stated Amazon on their blog. “All you have to do is plug it in and the built-in Alexa microphones will automatically calibrate and model the room around you. And you’re ready to go.” Echo Studio will sale for $199.99, and pre-orders will be available today.
2.0 of the Alexa Smart Screen Device SDK
Since not every TV has a Fire TV or Fire OS in it, Amazon announced version 2.0 of the Alexa Smart Screen Device SDK. This version will make it easier for “hardware manufacturers to add the same visuals we use in our Echo Show to their devices. The new SDK is available in public preview for developers starting today.”
Echo Show 8
The Echo Show 8 was unveiled today, too. It features an HD 8-inch display, camera shutter and three screen sizes 5.5-inches all the way up to 10-inches. The Echo Show 8 costs $129.99, and is available for pre-order today.
FreeTime with Echo Show
FreeTime is now available on Echo Show, in addition to Echo and Echo Dot. FreeTime protects kids with kid-friendly videos and the ability to make video calls only with parent-approved contacts. This new feature also allows kids to add fun stickers to photos and see music lyrics on the screen.
Another item for the kids is the Echo Glow, which is a multi-color smart lamp that’s basically the kid version of the Echo speaker. It can flicker like a campfire, light up in different colors and dim over time for bedtime. It sells for $29.99 and is available for pre-order today.
Certified for Humans
Amazon also announced its Certified for Humans label. Now when you see Amazon products with this label, you’ll know that they are super easy to use and set up.
According to the company some of the criteria for this label include:
– The product uses Frustration Free Setup
– They have background, silent over the air updates so the software is always up to date
– Customers can set them up with the Alexa app they already have
The all-new Eero Wi-Fi is available today in the US for $99 or $249 for a 3-pack and will be available in Europe in early November. It includes dual band radio and TrueMesh technology combine to end dead zones. Users can also get optional subscriptions to protect devices on their network through eero Secure or eero Secure+. The device can also use Alexa to pause Wi-Fi using voice commands.
Echo Flex is small speaker plugs into a wall outlet. Though it doesn’t have good enough speaker quality to blast tunes, it can be used to spread Alexa throughout your home on the cheap. It also has a USB port and a motion detector for connection with other smart devices. Echo Flex is available for pre-order for $24.99, and the accessories will cost $14.99 each.
There was a lot of news when it came to Ring. They came out with two new security cameras: the Stickup Cam and a new Ring Indoor Cam. These new additions are more affordable and comes with a lot of useful features. Pre-order is open for the Ring Stick Up Cam at just $100, and the Ring Indoor Cam for just $60.
Amazon has also come out with a DIY kit that can connect Ring Alarm to your already existing security system. The kit will come with the Alarm Hub and Alarm Retrofit Kit sold together for $375.99, or you can buy just the Retrofit Kit for only $199.99. The kit is scheduled ship in November.
Amazon Smart Oven
Are you terrible at cooking? Amazon has your back with the voice controlled Amazon Smart Oven. It can take your food items from frozen to done using preloaded presets and its combination of a microwave, convection oven, air fryer, and food warmer cooking abilities. You can even scan food packages and the oven will set the perfect cooking time. The Amazon Smart Oven is available for pre-order for $250 and comes with an Echo Dot.
Amazon wants you to be able to have a low-cost, low-power, low bandwidth connection option, so they introduced Amazon Sidewalk. It uses the free 900 MHz spectrum to control simple edge IoT devices to extend battery life. “We think developers will build all kinds of useful, low-cost products for this network,” the company stated. “We started with the obvious use case of lighting with Ring’s smart lighting, but think about all the things that are far from your home WiFi that might use Sidewalk—weather stations to tell you how much rain you’ve gotten, a water sensor in your garden with your tomatoes, a little sensor in your mailbox that lets you know when the mail has been delivered. The possibilities are endless.”
To go with Sidewalk, they are developing Ring Fetch (pictured above), a clip-on dog tracker that will be available next year.
Note: This post has been updated to provide up-to-date information.
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