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, the three large glass domes at Amazon’s headquarters here. Business Insider was in attendance and checked out the devices in the hands-on area afterward.
Here’s everything Amazon announced at its massive September event:
New Echo Dot
The Echo Dot, Amazon’s bestselling speaker that’s a miniature version of the original Echo, got a bunch of improvements, including a new design and better speakers that Amazon says are 70% louder than the previous version.
The new Echo Dot costs $US50, like the previous model, and starts shipping in October.
New Echo Plus
Amazon unveiled a new Echo Plus speaker with stronger bass and an equaliser 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 – for example, you could have it turn on your fans if a room gets too hot. 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 to preorder 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 now preorder the new Echo Show, 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 1 inch tall and 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 the Echo Sub. This is good if you like listening to music through your Echo but want some more bass.
It works with the 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 preorder the Echo Sub starting Friday. It costs $US129.99.
Echo Link and Echo Link Amp
Amazon’s new Echo Link lets you connect all your stereo equipment and features via your Amazon Echo or Alexa app, including music selection, volume, and multiroom playback. Amazon says it will be available “soon.” Echo Link costs $US199.99.
Echo Link Amp is like the Echo Link, but with a built-in two-channel amplifier. It will also be available “soon” and costs $US299.99.
Wi-Fi Simple Setup
Amazon wants to make it easier to set up your electronic devices, so it created two new services. There’s Amazon Wi-Fi Locker, which lets you reuse your network credentials to set up new devices – but the big standout feature is a new system called Wi-Fi Simple Setup, which lets people seamlessly connect their new Wi-Fi devices to their networks.
Amazon Smart Plug
Amazon unveiled a new gadget called the Smart Plug, which comes with Amazon’s new Wi-Fi Simple Setup feature.
Here’s how it works: If you connect a new smart kitchen appliance, like a smart coffee maker, into the Amazon Smart Plug, it will automatically connect to your Wi-Fi; no need to fuss with an extra app. It takes “less than 30 seconds,” according to Amazon.
It costs $US24.99 and will be available in October.
The microwave also comes with a Dash Replenishment service, meaning you can automatically order certain foods, like popcorn, if you’re running low.
The AmazonBasics Microwave is available to preorder and will start shipping later this year. It costs $US59.99.
Echo Wall Clock
Amazon made a smart clock for your wall, called the Echo Wall Clock, which can connect to your Echo device via Bluetooth. It works with all your timers, alarms, and reminders, and it even adjusts itself for daylight saving time.
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, such as ADT or Ring.
Alexa Guard also uses machine learning to turn your smart lights on and off in a normal pattern designed to make it seem as if someone is home when you’re gone.
Amazon introduced a new $US50 device called Echo Auto with enough microphones to handle noise in your car so Alexa can properly hear your commands, whether it’s noisy inside or outside your vehicle. Echo Auto needs to connect only to your phone via Bluetooth to work.
Alexa is also coming to cars in a new invite-only (for now) feature called Alexa Auto, which lets you use your voice to search for a nearby Starbucks or directions to a location. Amazon says it will start shipping Alexa Auto “later this year.”
Fire TV updates
The cheaper version ($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 said it was working to make Alexa “more opinionated and personal.” Thanks to a new feature called “Follow Up,” you can ask Alexa follow-up questions, negating the need to use her wake word every time you have a question or command.
Alexa now supports captions for the Echo Show and Echo Spot devices for customers with hearing impairments.
A “Routines for Kids” feature lets parents create customised commands – so if you say, for example, “Alexa, good night,” it can begin a routine that includes things like turning off the lights and starting sleep sounds.
A new feature called “Alexa Multiroom Music” lets you add a bunch of different Alexa-enabled speakers – like a Harman Kardon Allure or a Polk Command Bar – to a single group and play music from all of them. Amazon says it’s coming “this fall.”
Updates to Ring
In April, Amazon bought a company called Ring that makes smart doorbells. Seven months later, Amazon says the Ring app and Ring Alarm feature can be accessed by smart locks from Schlage, Yale, Kwikset, and Danalock.
Amazon also announced a new Ring Stick Up Cam that works indoors or outdoors. It will ship October 18 and cost $US179.99.
Amazon’s two Echo devices with screens, Echo Show and Echo Spot, are also getting doorbell support for Ring later this year, Amazon says. It will include a new feature called “doorbell chime announcements,” which sound a chime on all 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 that lets developers 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 two-in-one tablets.
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