About a year ago, Amazon introduced a product that would make some people’s live easier – the Amazon Echo, a digital assistant that doesn’t live inside your phone, but instead, resides on a cylindrical device that stays on all the time and sits around your house. It works just like Google Now and you can invoke it by saying “Alexa, do something”, as Alexa is its name, and it will respond by giving you answers or executing actions like setting a timer or alarm, adding items to a to-do list, and so on. One interesting feature is the Flash Briefing, that reads news from several sources out loud.
After a recent update, Amazon added new sources for the Flash Briefing and now you have CNN, Market Minute and Featured Interview, both from Bloomberg. These additions sum up with NPR, BBC, ESPN Radio and more sources currently on Alexa’s catalog. Some channels played are pre-recorded stories, and others are headlines read by Alexa. To invoke the Briefing, just say “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing” or “Alexa, what’s in the news”. She can also answer questions, and Amazon added information about TV shows, including who starred in them and who plays specific characters. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO & founder, taught Alexa a new funny trick to keep up with the current campaign. If said “Alexa, send Donal Trump to space”, she will answer “I think Jeff Bezos reserved him a seat on his Blue Origin rocket,” a reference to Bezo’s Blue Origin space company after Trump trashed Bezos on Twitter.
Other than news, there’s a lot Alexa can do. You can also get her to list traffic, weather and local businesses information, read audiobooks and provide scores and schedules of sports. Echo also has just to mention a few features. Music lovers also have their space there, and she can play music from sources like Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more. If you like smart home devices, Echo can also control lights and switches with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, and other connected devices, with more features being constantly added – 95 since its launch, according to Amazon. Echo is available for $180 on Amazon, and it will be on stock by December 23.