The Amazon Echo was launched some time ago by Amazon to not only take on the likes of Google Now and Siri, but to also get Amazon's foot in the door of the Internet of Things wave sweeping consumer electronics. Amazon understands that they can't exactly compete with the likes of Belkin and Philips on the IoT front out of nowhere, and they also understand that nobody is going to drop their Android or iOS device to get access to one more assistant. So, they created the Echo, a smart speaker that responds to commands, relays information and generally gets things done on your behalf. It was originally launched as something of a smart Bluetooth speaker, but since then it has grown all sorts of capabilities.
Not only can it find and control music from multiple sources including TuneIn Radio, but it now integrates with Philips and Belkin IoT products, with IFTTT recipes, Google Calendar and of course the ability to read back Audible audiobooks. It's been tested by a select group of consumers at home, but starting today it's now available to order by anyone for $179.99. That's not exactly cheap, and considering the Echo won't ship 'til July 14th, it does make you wonder whether or not it's worth it. Amazon hopes the below video will help sway your decision, but if you're still not sure what the Echo is all about, then think of a stationary Google Now speaker, spouting out sports scores and controlling your lighting, and you get the general idea.
When it launched, critics weren't exactly sure what to make of the Amazon Echo, but as it gains more abilities, deepening its connections in a connected home, it's slowly starting to make sense. The Echo is not designed to be just a smart Bluetooth speaker, but more of an interactive hub for all manner of things. And yes, you can of course use the Amazon Echo to shop Amazon, but showing some restraint might be helpful to your bank account. As we said, the Amazon Echo is now available to order – via the link below – and will ship halfway through July.