Amazon announces a range of new products including Airpods competitor, Echo Buds
Amazon kicked off its annual hardware event on Wednesday where it unveiled several new Echo devices and Alexa capabilities.
The company revealed its competitor to Apple’s AirPods, called the Echo Buds. The earbuds feature five hours of battery life, as well as noise cancellation technology from Bose.
It also unveiled the $199 Echo Studio, which is bigger than previous models and features high-quality speakers that enable 3D sound, with help from Dolby Atmos. Amazon also rolled out a revamped $99 Echo that comes with updated speakers and in a range of new colors. Both devices are available for pre-order starting today.
Amazon showed off a new Echo device, called the Echo Glow. The $30 device, which is available for pre-order now, is targeted for kids and lets them tap the top of the device, causing it to cycle through a range of bright colors.
Amazon debuted a new Echo Show, which the company said is its “fastest-growing” Echo product. The all-new Echo Show 8 starts at $129 and includes a larger 8-inch display, as well as improved speakers. It’s available for pre-order starting today.
The company also launched a new Echo Dot, which starts at $59 and includes an LED display with a clock underneath the device’s fabric casing. It’s available for pre-order today, while the existing Echo Dot will continue to be available for purchase.
Following in the footsteps of last year’s event, Amazon launched another Alexa-equipped smart device for the kitchen. The company is launching a $249 smart oven that’s equipped with convention cooking and an air fryer. Users can also scan an item from the Alexa app, which will trigger the oven to start cooking.
Amazon said users receive a free Echo Dot with every purchase of a smart oven.
Also new to Amazon’s hardware range is a device called the Echo Flex. The $25 device is essentially a tiny speaker that plugs into a wall and easily brings Alexa into any room. It’s equipped with a USB port for phone charging, a switch to mute Alexa and motion sensors, as well as a night light.
Amazon’s Eero home routers also got a refresh. The new device is designed for easier setup than before and is updated to include dual-band radio and TrueMesh technology so that users have “whole-home WiFi coverage.” It starts at $99 for a single device, or $249.99 for a 3-pack, both of which are available for pre-order today.
In addition to new hardware, Amazon also revealed new Alexa features, including “doorbell concierge,” which adds the voice assistant to Ring smart doorbells. The update makes Alexa more conversational when interacting with people at a user’s front door, including asking if it can “take a message” or telling a deliveryman where to leave a package.
Another new Alexa feature uses AI to mimic celebrity voices. For 99 cents, users can select a celebrity voice like actor Samuel L. Jackson to tell them the weather, set alarms and play music. The feature is set to roll out later this year.
The company typically uses the event to refresh its Echo family, as well as reveal new devices that integrate its Alexa voice assistant. During last year’s event, Amazon announced 15 Alexa-enabled products, including a microwave, a wall clock, an amplifier and a receiver, among others.
Amazon could launch a pair of Alexa-powered wireless earbuds with fitness-tracking capabilities, alongside a bulkier Echo device with improved sound quality, sources told CNBC.
Launching a pair of Alexa-powered earbuds would enable users to interact with Amazon’s voice assistant while they’re on the go. Rivals like Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant have the advantage of being embedded in smartphones, which can be used on the go, whereas Amazon’s Alexa has so far been limited to use inside the home, via voice-activated speakers and smart devices.
It comes as Amazon is working to increase user engagement with Alexa, as part of a broader effort to fend off competitors. Amazon continues to have a foothold in the smart speaker space, controlling 70% of the market, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. However, rivals like Google are catching up.