The Amazon Echo was released just a little over a year ago, and it caused quite the frenzy. Amazon made consumers request an invitation, and you couldn’t order an Echo without an invitation. Even if you got an invitation, you were limited to purchasing just one Echo. This was Amazon’s way of beta testing, and during the soft release, they were encouraging users to send feedback and suggestions for improving the product. Every so often, Echo owners would get an email that detailed the newest features of the Echo. The emails are still coming, and detail a few updates – even giving credit users that came up with the idea or that used the new feature – then direct you to the smartphone app to see or learn more.
It is obvious that Amazon was applying updates to the Echo constantly, and has continued to do so – to a point where it has become almost impossible to even keep up with all the new features. On the Echo product page on Amazon, they even boast that 95 new features have been added since the product launched. In case you’re having a hard time keeping up, here are the latest…ok, just the greatest…updates:
- Reads from Audible. The Echo will read your audiobooks, and it supports Amazon’s tech called Whispersync, which allows your audiobook to pick up right where it last left off.
- Gives information on local business. Echo now uses Yelp to provide information about local businesses. I just asked my Echo where I could grab some sushi, and it came back with 5 local sushi spots. It wasn’t able to tell me where I could get my shoes repaired, but promised that it will continue to add more local businesses.
- Live sports coverage. Echo will now tell you when your favorite teams are playing, and how they are doing when they are playing.
- Elle Horoscopes. You can activate the horoscope feature, and have the day or weekend horoscope read for individual signs.
- Light and appliance controls. The Echo can also serve as a mini smart home hub through its compatibility with WeMo, Wink, Philips Hue and more.
- Pandora Streaming. You’ve always had access to the Prime Music library, TuneIn, and IHeartRadio, but now you are also able to listen to the Pandora library, which boasts over 1 million songs.
- Traffic Reporting. Using the app, you can set up a commute and Echo will tell you how long it will take to get there. It can also advise on which route is the fastest.
- Reordering products from Amazon. Your shopping history can now be your shopping list. Your Echo can reorder items that you have purchased from Amazon, as long as they are eligible for Prime.
Keep an eye on this tech; I’m excited to see what they might do next. All of the updates so far have been to the software; there has been no buzz about hardware updates. With LG and other competitors starting to enter the space with LCD screens and other hardware updates, it will be interesting to see if Amazon expands beyond, or stays focused on, enhancing its softw