Amazon hosted a special event on Wednesday to announce new products featuring the company's smart assistant, Alexa. I lost count, but I'm pretty sure they introduced at least 15 new or updated products.
They don't give me enough space to cover all of them, so we'll cut to the chase. The most important thing Amazon announced today is "Home Mode" which allows you to tell Alexa to stop listening, and give her a command to delete recordings. You can also adjust your privacy settings to auto-delete recordings after three or eight months.
That said, the fact that you can now make Alexa speak to you as Samuel L. Jackson (with swear words and all) seems like it's worth a mention. And for the record, that's not even the craziest thing announced yesterday.
Here are a few of the most interesting, innovative, or otherwise just absurd new products Amazon introduced:
Amazon finally has a legit competitor in the high-end smart speaker space. This one supports Dolby Atmos surround sound and Sony's 360 Reality Board audio. It listens to your voice commands (which is both a feature and a problem), but the real highlight here is that the speaker sounds really good. It'll even adjust its own sound output depending on the size of the room it is sitting in. It is now available for pre-order at $199.
Because, what could possibly be better than literally wearing Alexa on your finger? Well, I would argue a lot of things, but that didn't stop Amazon from introducing exactly that. The Loop is a ring that will apparently vibrate to alert you of mobile notifications and can even access Alexa via vocal commands.
The Loop will debut at $129.99, but is available only via invite for now, which is usually what companies do when they introduce something no one really knows why it exists. That said, send me an invite Amazon and I'll wear one for a week (I promise).
Don't get too excited, these aren't what you think--assuming you think that a pair of glasses with Alexa built-in are going to be something really exciting. They're basically earbuds that you wear on your face instead of in your ears.
They only work with Android, and can make calls, listen to music, and interact with Alexa. Which is exactly what you can do with earbuds. There's no camera, no display (meaning no AR or VR), and you have to provide your own prescription lenses if you need them. These too are invite-only for $180.
These are basically Echo Frames that you wear--in your ear. Which, by the way, is where wearable speakers normally go. By that standard, these aren't bad, with both Alexa and Bose noise-cancellation. Early reviewers give them pretty good marks for sound quality, and they'll also support Siri and Google Assistant making them a decent buy for $129.
Alexa Smart Oven
Amazon says its current smart microwave is the top-seller in that category--which probably has as much to do with the fact that Amazon favors its own products in search results. It might also be because it's basically the only company making a smart microwave--I'm not even sure what that means but if it will promise not to burn my popcorn, I'm interested.
The Smart Oven is apparently a convection oven, air-fryer, and microwave all in one, which will suggest appropriate cooking times after scanning product barcodes. It is available for pre-order at $249.99.
Amazon says the most commonly asked question of Alexa is "what time is it?" Apparently she was getting tired of answering that question, so now you don't have to ask. The new and improved version of the Dot now has a built-in LED clock. You can get this one now for $59.
Yes, Amazon wants to stick a geofence tag on your dog. This totally feels like something that's not actually real, but Amazon actually introduced a tag that connects to your dog's collar in order to keep track of where they are and alert owners if Fido leaves the yard. The details aren't fully clear, but it's based on Amazon's strategy to build out the Sidewalk low-power wireless standard that lets devices connect over distances as long as 500 meters.
The dog tag won't be available until next year, and its price is still unknown, meaning that for now you should probably just keep the pup on a leash.