SEATTLE — Amazon held a special event on Thursday to unveil a slew of new gadgets and services.
At the start of the event, Amazon exec Dave Limp said “We’ve got 70 things to talk about,” and if he was joking, it was hard to tell. According to Limp, Thursday’s event featured the largest number of devices and features that Amazon has ever announced in a single day.
The event was held in the Amazon Spheres, which are three large glass domes located on Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle. Business Insider was in attendance, and checked out the hands-on area afterwards.
Here’s everything Amazon announced at its massive September event:
NEW ECHO DOT
The Echo Dot — Amazon’s best-selling speaker ever, which is a miniature version of the original Echo — got a bunch of improvements, including a new design, and better speakers that are 70% louder than the previous version.
The new Echo Dot costs $US50, like the last model, and starts shipping in October.
NEW ECHO PLUS
Amazon unveiled a new Echo Plus speaker that features stronger bass and an equalizer feature that lets you adjust the bass and treble using just your voice.
The new Echo Plus also has an integrated temperature sensor so you can create special commands that trigger actions, so you could have it turn on your fans if a room gets too hot, for example. It will also support local voice control, so you won’t need an internet connection to do some basic commands like turning on lights.
The new Echo Plus is available for pre-order, and starts shipping in October. It costs $US149.99.
NEW ECHO SHOW
Amazon redesigned the Echo Show to have a bigger 10-inch HD screen — twice the display area of the original Echo Show — and better sound quality. It also has two new web browsers, including Firefox and Amazon’s Silk browser.
You can pre-order the new Echo Show now, which starts shipping in October. It costs $US229.99.
Amazon made a tiny standalone microphone called Echo Input, which connects to a third-party speaker through an audio cable or Bluetooth so you can talk to Alexa and control the speaker from across the room (assuming it’s a big room), or from a different room. It’s less than an inch tall and is barely noticeable.
Amazon says the Echo Input will be available “later this year” for $US34.99.
Amazon introduced a new subwoofer for the Amazon Echo, appropriately named Echo Sub. This is good if you like listening to music through your Echo but want some more bass.
It works with Amazon Echo and Echo Plus, and you can attach the Echo Sub to two of the same model of Echo speakers to create a 2.1 stereo sound system.
You can pre-order the Echo Sub. It costs $US129.99.
ECHO LINK and ECHO LINK AMP
Amazon’s new Echo Link lets you connect all of your stereo equipment via your Amazon Echo or Alexa app, including music selection, volume, and multi-room playback. Amazon says it will be available “soon.” Echo Link costs $199.99.
Echo Link Amp is like the Echo Link, but with a built-in 2-channel amplifier. It will also be available “soon,” and that model costs $299.99.
ECHO WALL CLOCK
Amazon made a smart clock for your wall, called Echo Wall Clock, which can connect to your Echo device via Bluetooth. It works with all of your timers, alarms, and reminders, and even adjusts itself according to Daylight Savings.
The Echo Wall Clock ships “later this year,” and costs $US29.99.
A new feature called Alexa Guard integrates security service providers with your Echo devices and smart lights to protect your home.
For instance, Alexa Guard can send you alerts with audio clips when specific sounds are detected, and you can choose to forward those alerts to your security provider like ADT or Ring.
Alexa Guard also uses machine learning to turn your smart lights on and off in a pattern that seems normal to make it seem like someone is home.
Amazon introduced a new $US50 device called Echo Auto, with enough microphones in it to handle noise in your car so Alexa can properly hear your commands, whether it’s noisy inside or outside your vehicle. Echo Auto only needs to connect to your phone via Bluetooth to work.
Alexa is also coming to cars in a new invite-only (for now) feature called Alexa Auto, which lets you search for a nearby Starbucks, or directions to a location, using just your voice. Amazon will start shipping Alexa Auto “later this year.”
FIRE TV UPDATES
There’s two versions. The cheaper one ($US229.99) lets you record up to two shows at once, and the more expensive model ($US279.99) gives you more storage and the ability to record up to four shows simultaneously. Both devices let you search for shows, or even delete your scheduled recordings, using just your voice with Alexa.
UPDATES TO ALEXA
Amazon announced it’s working to make Alexa “more opinionated and personal.” Thanks to a new feature called “Follow up,” you can ask follow-up questions to Alexa, negating the need to use her wake word every single time you have a question or command.
Alexa now supports captions for the Echo Show and Echo Spot devices, for hearing-impaired customers.
A Routines for Kids feature lets parents create customized commands, so if you say, “Alexa, good night,” it can begin a routine — like turning off the lights and starting sleep sounds, for instance.
A new feature called Alexa Multi-Room Music lets you add a bunch of different Alexa-enabled speakers to a single group — like if you own a Harmon Kardon Allure, or a Polk Command Bar — and play music from all of them. The feature’s coming “this fall.”
UPDATES TO RING
Back in February, Amazon bought a company that makes smart doorbells called Ring. Seven months later, Amazon is announcing that the Ring app and Ring Alarm feature can be accessed by smart locks from Schlage, Yale, Kwikset, and Danalock.
Amazon also announced the new Ring Stick Up Cam, which works indoors or outdoors. It will ship October 18 and costs $US179.99.
Amazon’s two Echo devices with screens, Echo Show and Echo Spot, are also getting doorbell support for Ring “later this year.” It will have a new feature called Doorbell Chime Announcements, which sounds a chime on all of your Echo devices if someone rings your smart doorbell.
NEW SOFTWARE FOR DEVELOPERS
Amazon announced the fourth version of its smart-home APIs, which let developers build Alexa into their devices. It includes the Alexa Connect Kit, which Amazon calls “the simplest way to create Wi-Fi connected, smart home products.” The Alexa Connect Kit has a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth low-energy module with Amazon software that can automatically connect to Amazon’s cloud services.
Alexa Presentation Language is a new feature for developers, which lets them build visual Alexa skills with graphics, videos, slideshows, and more.
Amazon’s new Alexa Smart Screen Device SDK lets developers build experiences for smart displays, TVs, and 2-in-1 tablets.
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