SEATTLE – Alexa, where are my glasses? Oh, I’m wearing them.
Alexa, where is my music? Oh, in my ear.
The gist of Amazon’s massive product reveal Wednesday was new ways to get Alexa into our daily lives, from smart glasses and earbuds to a tiny Echo that connects to a night light for the bedroom.
The rival to Apple’s AirPods, Amazon’s Echo Buds, was unveiled as a $129 alternative to Apple’s $169 product, with the promise of noise-canceling, which AirPods don’t have. The buds will answer to Alexa, as opposed to Siri on the AirPods.
The smart glasses, Echo Frame, selling for $179, will be available initially by invitation only, similar to how Amazon launched its Echo Auto device last year. That product never went beyond invite-only.
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“I’m blown away by the sheer number of announcements and use cases the company is addressing,” says Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “The highlight was the glasses. That fundamentally changes the game on how to work with Alexa. Prior smart glasses tried to do too many things.”
The glasses were an answer to consumers asking for ways to continue using Alexa when out of the home, without having to plug a device into power.
•Saying that customers ask Alexa more than a billion times a year what time is it, Amazon responded by releasing a new edition of the Echo speaker, with a clock. Echo Dot with clock will sell for $59 and be available in November. Amazon said the Dot is far and away Amazon’s best-selling speaker.
•Amazon introduced a $99 Echo speaker, with what it said is improved sound. On the higher end, Amazon showed off an answer to music fans who complain about tinny sound in the Echo speakers with Echo Studio, which Dave Limp, the Amazon official who oversees the devices division, called “the most innovative speaker we’ve ever built.”
He likened the sound to being in a great jazz club or symphony.
In a demo for the media, the $199 speaker sounded surprisingly strong, like several speakers connected together instead of one little Echo speaker.
On the low end, Limp showed off the smallest Echo speaker, the tiny $24.99 Echo Flex, a portable Echo device for plugging in by the bed, with an optional $14.99 night light accessory.
•In the non-Echo area of the smart home, Amazon introduced a new version of the Eero device that looks to manage Wi-Fi in the home and eliminate dead spots, lowering the price by half, to $99 from $199, and offering a three-pack for $249, down from $399.
At the event, Amazon kicked it off by stressing the privacy aspects of its personal assistant system, which has come under fire from privacy advocates.
“Privacy is foundational to everything we do,” Limp said.
Amazon records our queries after we use the Alexa wake word, and the recordings are stored on Amazon servers unless the consumers request that they be deleted.
Limp said the Alexa privacy hub will be upgraded, with auto-delete after three to 18 months. “It’s a good step forward,” he said.
Amazon will continue recording queries and storing them.
This is a developing story that will be updated.