The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday casually mentioned in an article that Amazon is secretly working on a new “tablet-like” computer featuring Alexa, Amazon’s voice-enabled assistant from the Echo smart Bluetooth speaker.
Apparently, the tablet-like device that’s being developed by Amazon’s Lab126 hardware division is codenamed “Knight,” and it’s designed to let users “summon Web pages, videos or images when, say, their hands are covered in flour.”
From the brief description, it sounds like it could basically be the Echo in tablet form.
Amazon’s voice-powered tablet with Alexa could be similar to the Google Now feature you can find today in Android phones and tablets. You can set Google in Android devices to recognise your voice so you can ask basic questions and commands without having to touch the screen.
However, Alexa on Amazon’s Echo is better in some areas than Google Now.
One of the main differences is that Alexa will talk back to you with the answer, like Apple’s Siri does on iPhones and iPads.
Alexa is also generally more responsive. You can easily activate Alexa from a different room without raising your voice too high, whereas Google Now requires you to be close to your Android device.
Amazon also lets developers and hardware makers integrate their apps and services with the Alexa and the Echo, which means you can eventually control any “smart” thing connected to the internet that’s designed to work with the Echo by issuing voice-commands to Alexa.
It’s true that you can control your smart home devices like the Nest thermostat using Google Now, but it’s not integrated into Google Now itself. You have to go through a few hoops and workarounds to make it work.
Based on the 4.5 rating from over 3600 reviews on Amazon, the Amazon Echo is clearly a winner, and it’s hardly surprising that Amazon would want to implement Alexa in its next portable device.