Amazon’s Echo is getting an overhaul for the first time in more than two years since the voice-activated speaker powered by virtual assistant Alexa hit the marketplace.
According to a news report in Engadget, citing an unnamed source, the eCommerce giant is working on improving the Echo in an effort to steal some of Apple’s thunder with the HomePod, which is coming out later this year.
The source told Engadget the redesigned Echo will not only be shorter and slimmer than its predecessor, but the design will also have rounded edges and a so-called cloth-like covering instead of the plastic encasement on the Echo today. It’s also improving the sound of the speaker, including several tweeters instead of just one large tweeter and woofer. Apple HomePod, noted the report, has seven tweeters, which was the reason it sounds better than the Echo in a brief demo, reported Engadget.
Amazon is also reportedly enhancing the microphone technology in the Echo and could make improvements to the software and acoustic modeling. It may also come with some new hardware innovations, Engadget speculated in the report.
The report about an overhaul of the Amazon Echo comes at a time when the device is in huge demand. During the company’s annual Prime Day earlier this week, it had record sales of its voice-activated speakers and other branded devices. The Echo and Echo Dot, both equipped with virtual assistant Alexa, sold at a rates three to seven times higher than they did during Prime Day 2016.
It was also a good day for marketplace sellers on Amazon — according to reports, third-party sellers had unloaded 50 percent more items on the site by noon local time (1900 GMT) than in the same timeframe last year.
While Echo got a lot of the press yesterday, the most popular item sold during Prime Day was actually its smaller — less expensive cousin — the Echo Dot. While specific sales figures were not broken out, Amazon did report that the devices were “selling at a rate of thousands per minute.”