Amazon has announced it is bringing its Echo smart speaker over to the UK. Both the Echo and the smaller Echo Dot is available to UK consumers via pre-order for launch on the 24 September.
The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot speakers are voice-controlled. But the brain behind these smart speakers, is Alexa, the intelligent cloud-based voice service, which Amazon claims is always getting smarter because she resides in the cloud and third-party developers are constantly building new 'skills' for her.
The Echo speaker uses 'always-on' technology which detects the word "Alexa" as a wake word. Once detected, a light turns blue and begins streaming the consumer's request to the cloud. Alexa then uses Amazon Web Services to process the request.
The Alexa software answers questions, plays music, checks the traffic and, when connected to your home via applications such as Hive or Phillips Hue, can become a smart home powerhouse, with the ability to change the temperature or turn off the lights.
For its UK debut, Alexa will have thousands of 'skills' available to her, including Spotify, Uber, Philips Hue, Hive, Just Eat, National Rail Enquiries, and more. Alexa will also be able to connect consumers to the Amazon ecosystem where they can re-order items regularly bought on their Prime account.
“Millions across the US have already fallen in love with Alexa. And, predictably, she’s even more likeable with a British accent,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “We’re delighted to be bringing Echo and Alexa to the UK.”
Alexa is also a free cloud service for developers. The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) can be used by anyone to build skills for the disembodied voice.
The Echo will be priced at £149.99 and Prime subscribers who order before the end of the week are eligible for £50 off. Meanwhile, the Echo Dot will be available next month, priced at £49.99.