Your A.I. Butler, V 2.0

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Tech Trends: Your A.I. Butler, V 2.0

by Simon Jones | Life & Times | May 11, 2017

A little under a year ago, we reviewed the Amazon Echo, the company’s digital butler. With the Echo, you can listen to music, get information and even control the lights and temperature of your house.

Now, Amazon has unveiled the newest iteration of its Echo, the Echo Show

This upgrade refines Echo’s previous abilities while adding a new set of skills. Now, in addition to playing music, the Echo Show can offer information about the music you’re hearing, including playlists and lyrics. It can display the weather forecast or show your schedule. By adding a screen, it gains utility and aesthetic appeal.

The Echo Show’s screen enables functions that would have been impossible for the original Echo. Notably, it can now play videos, including YouTube video streams. Like its predecessor, it will also have app support and soon allow developers to help support the device.

Amazon is emphasizing the video call feature. The Amazon Echo couldn’t make phone calls at all, so this is uncharted waters for the company. It’s also new for the home assistant industry overall. Google and Apple’s competing products have not yet branched into video. Amazon is encouraging the conferencing feature by including a camera with the Echo.

Unlike the Echo, the Echo Show is never really off. While the Echo sits in neutral until a user actually addresses it, that’s not so with the Echo Show. Because it uses a screen, the machine is always on and displaying information, which may be trouble for some users. Tech savvy early adopters advise using the mute function liberally to avoid having the device confuse nearby conversations with voice commands.

The Echo Show is expected to hit the shelves in June and will retail for approximately $230, about $90 more that the current price of the Echo. However, you can buy two for a reduced price of $360.