Amazon may release new Alexa device complete with touchscreen

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Amazon, in addition to being among the world’s most popular online retailers, has made a few efforts to branch off and create its own hardware to varying degrees of success. The smart home speaker system, Amazon Echo, has been a big hit for the company and a new report is coming out that suggests that we may soon see a brand new Alexa-powered speaker complete with a large touchscreen.

Join us after the break for the details.

To recap a bit here, Alexa is the name of Amazon’s voice-controlled digital assistant, similar to Apple’s Siri and the Google Assistant. Asking questions in regards to the weather, calendar appointments, top headlines, etc will result in Alexa speaking the information back. With Amazon Echo and Alexa, you can also play music from Amazon Music, Spotify, among others, as well as control various smart home devices such as lights or thermostats.

Amazon certainly was not the first company to develop its own voice-enabled AI system, but when Amazon Echo was introduced back in 2014, it became quite the surprise hit especially when you consider how much of a flop its Android-based Fire Phone was. Smart speakers and AI platforms are increasing in popularity with Google Assistant now found in a few of Google’s products such as the new Google Home smart speaker, which is a direct competitor to Amazon Echo. Samsung is also expected to announce its own AI-based system called Bixby.

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According to a new report on Bloomberg, Amazon may be in development of a new Alexa-powered speaker, but more in the form of a tablet complete with a 7-inch touchscreen. Not much is known currently about this product, and so it is currently unclear if Amazon will still market this device within the “smart home speaker” category or if it will be a full-fledged tablet that also has Alexa built-in at the system level. The report indicates a new version of Fire OS will power the device.

There are certainly benefits to introducing a touchscreen to a smart speaker. The hands-free voice approach, while very convenient, may not always be ideal as adding visuals can result in a much more immersive and information-rich experience. Or even more simply, sometimes you may just not want to use your voice.

Since this possible device will be running Fire OS, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it taking advantage of all the software features and apps that would currently be found on such a tablet. While an announcement may come as early as the first quarter of 2017, there is no information about the possible price of this device. However, given that Amazon Echo retails for $180, it’s very likely this touchscreen device will go for some amount higher than that.

We will keep an eye out for any updates. Does this sound like a device that interests you? Can Amazon offer a rich enough experience to sway you from other Android tablets or home speakers?

Source: Bloomberg


About the Author: Kevin Arnold

Kevin has been obsessed with technology ever since the days of playing with commands in MS-DOS. As a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology where he studied a combination of New Media Programming and Photography, Kevin lives in New York City where he works as a photo retoucher. His first "smartphone" was the good old LG Voyager with its slide-out physical keyboard. The first Android device Kevin owned was the now-infamous HTC Thunderbolt, which he still has in a drawer somewhere. Currently rocking both the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, Kevin has a (un)healthy obsession with phones and has owned more than he can remember. When he's not shopping for a new phone, Kevin enjoys lots of food and wine, video games, astronomy, and the Big Apple.