Amazon Echo Family Grows — By Getting Smaller

The way Amazon’s Echo is designed, one might think it can handle just about everything with nothing more than voice commands. On every front the regular Echo can’t hold its own, though, Amazon has its customers covered.

The eCommerce giant released two new models in the newly constituted line of Echo products – the Amazon Tap and the Echo Dot. Like the original Echo before them, both devices revolve around seamless user interaction with the growing ecosystem of Amazon apps and streaming platforms, though with distinct differences. The Tap, for instance, runs off of an internal battery unlike the Echo and can be taken on the road, while the Echo Dot is more of a bridge device that allows users to turn any Bluetooth speaker into a voice-controlled gateway into Amazon’s world of Web services.

Re/code was able to test the new Echo devices at a media event in San Francisco recently, where Amazon senior vice president of devices David Limp explained that the retailer kept hearing from customers that while the Echo met their needs, it didn’t quite fit into every user’s lifestyle and behaviors – hence the two new models.

“For me, what’s going to be really exciting … is seeing the multitude of ways that customers start using these products,” Limp told Re/code. “Customers always surprise us, which is great.”

As a surprise back to their customers, Amazon is selling the Echo Dot in something of a limited release. While the Tap is immediately available to all, the Echo Dot is currently only open to Amazon Prime members who already own an Echo or Fire TV. Even then, customers can’t just stroll to Amazon’s website to make their purchases; they’ll have to actually tell their Echo or Fire TV, “Alexa, order an Echo Dot,” before one will arrive at their door.


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