Amazon currently dominates the smart speaker system with its Echo smart speaker, but the company is not sitting on its laurels. Bloomberg reports that Amazon is working a premium version of its Echo speaker that will come with a seven-inch touchscreen. The e-commerce giant is taking this move to “fend off competition from Google and Apple.”
None of Amazon’s current Alexa-powered Echo offerings come with a built-in touchscreen. The touchscreen on the premium speaker will make it easier to view information like weather, calendar appointments, and news.
The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people familiar with the matter. This will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news, the people said.
The speaker will be larger than Echo and will tilt upwards so that the screen will be visible when the device is kept on a table. The high-grade speakers will also be a step up from the speaker that Amazon currently uses in its Echo devices. Amazon is expected to unveil its latest Echo offering in the first quarter of 2017. The device will be running a lighter and modified version of Amazon’s Fire OS. It will likely come with features like the ability to pin notes and photos on the touchscreen.
While Apple has not released a product like Alexa, the company is reportedly working on an Echo-like smart home device that recently entered into prototype testing phase.