Amazon’s newest innovation is sure to spark the interest of tech-lovers from all the ends of the Earth. The Echo, which was released in June of 2015, has been an ongoing project in Silicon Valley since 2010. It is a wireless speaker and voice command device that uses a voice service called “Alexa” to interact with the user and perform a variety of tasks and services. To put it simply, it’s a cylindrical Bluetooth speaker that can listen to your commands.
The Echo has many functions but if you’re into reading, you can now listen to audiobooks from your Audible account or your Kindle. Since Echo supports Whispersync, you can start off by listening to your audiobook through your Echo and then finish where you left off on your kindle or compatible Amazon app. You can switch back and forth as much as you want without ever losing your place. The only content that Echo cannot playback from Audible is: newspaper and magazine audio subscriptions, stats and badges, bookmarks and notes, and it cannot control the speed of narration. In order to begin listening to your favorite audiobook, all you have to do it tell Alexa to “read- (insert book title here)” and viola! She will begin reading from the book title you have just given her. You can also instruct her to pause, go to a different chapter or page, restart, stop or to even set a sleep timer in case you dose off.
Maybe you’re cozy at home and want to get lost in a good book on a cold, rainy day. Maybe you need to study textbooks and readings for your upcoming final exams. Maybe you just need to kill some time while you’re waiting for your ride to pick you up. Maybe you’re looking to refresh your skills with instructional how-tos. There are many reasons why the Echo’s ability to play audiobooks is attracting shoppers. It can be a great tool for anyone who likes to read or prefers to listen along to the book instead. Featuring dual downward-firing speakers the Echo gives off 360º omni-directional audio that will fill the room with sound.
Although Echo requires a Wi-Fi connection in order to work, in addition to reading ebooks it can also inform you of local weather and news from various sources including NPR and ESPN, it can play music from Amazon, Pandora, Apple Music and even Google Play. You can even use the Bluetooth to connect to your smart phone and stream any media you have on your device. Echo can also keep track of your alarms, timers, to-do lists and can access Wikipedia articles for quick information. In a way, Echo is like an artificially intelligent secretary. Echo can respond to questions about your Google calendar and can integrate with smart home products such as those from Philips Hue, Belkin Wemo, SmartThings, Insteon and Wink. Though, this is quite an impressive list of services, Amazon is also currently working on adding even more integrations with other brands and products. This product just might be Amazon’s ticket to get ahead in the hardware market.