Can You Live Without This New Gadget?
Amazon introduced its first Alexa-enabled digital speaker in June 2015. In 2016, the Amazon Echo was joined by Amazon Tap and Echo Dot. Now, another Alexa product has debuted in May 2017. Will this new personal digital assistant become a central part of your life, your family and your home? Read on for the scoop...
Introducing the Amazon Echo Show
The Amazon Echo Show looks quite different from the original cylindrical Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, and Echo Dot. The Echo Show is more linear, with the profile of a cheese wedge. It has a touchscreen, a first for this type of product. And of course, it has Alexa. Put the two together and you have everyone’s “dream Echo.” (There's even a dreamy white version of Amazon Echo Show.)
While Alexa tells you about the weather, the Echo Show’s screen displays your current and estimated high/low temperatures, odds of precipitation, etc. When you ask who won the big game, Alexa recites the team name while Show shows you the final score. The 7-inch screen is readable from many angles and distances. Just about anything you could do with Echo, you can do with Echo Show via voice or touch commands.
The Amazon Echo Show is basically a tablet computer. But Amazon is not competing with Samsung and Apple, so no Fire OS apps are available for the Show. Amazon really wants to sell you an Alexa you not only talk to, but also touch.
All of the “skills” that have been developed for the Echo work just as well on Echo Show. Amazon has also given developers tools for developing visual components of skills. Lyft could display your car’s location and ETA. Phillips Lighting can show you a color wheel to help select your mood lighting. You could watch a morning newscast instead of listening to it. And, of course, Alexa plus a touchscreen means much more exciting shopping on Amazon!
Voice-control of video content is another possibility. Voice-search for YouTube videos or browse the Amazon Prime Video Library. There’s no Hulu or Netflix, yet.
The Show’s front-facing camera, multiple microphones, and decent-sized screen make it ideal for video chats. And Amazon is rolling out a new Alexa-based communication system, which lets you send audio, video, and text messages to anyone with an Alexa device or app. Do we really need another way to send a text message? No, of course not. But Amazon thinks the Show will become the central exchange for all household communications.
Bells and Whistles Included
Mom in the kitchen will be able to flip on the nursery’s video feed with a quick voice command or touch of a virtual button. Calling everyone to dinner via Show will be a lot easier on the throat. And everybody can gather around Show when it’s time to call Grandma.
You can even link a home phone number to the Echo Show, so that any calls to that number will ring all the phones in your house, or just some of them. This call-hunt feature is part of the array of voice and messaging functions that Amazon is rolling out to all Alexa products, not just Show.
But these new voice and messaging functions will spotlight one of Alexa’s biggest shortcomings. There can be only one user per Alexa account. When Dad’s phone starts ringing with Junior’s friends, Amazon will get even more intense feedback on this issue.
It's true that you can replicate most of the functions of Amazon Echo Show with a smartphone or tablet. Apple's Siri and Google Now/Assistant both have the voice command and artificial intelligence capabilities to make it work. But the Show is preconfigured to do all those things in a convenient, seamless way. Overall, the Amazon Echo Show is a big breakthrough in Alexa technology. The touchscreen enables much more functionality, and brings us closer to the day when Alexa (or something like it) will be indispensable.
The last hundred or so years have brought us a lot of products at which people scoffed when they first heard of them. Granted, some were dumb, like the motorized twirling spaghetti fork. But there have been many cases where those things turned out to be quite popular and useful. I'd count the microwave, plastic bags and the automobile among them. Other innovations that were at first ridiculed include aspirin, radios, photocopiers, and personal computers.
Henry Ford is credited as having said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Regardless of whether he actually uttered those words, the notion is sound. Sometimes you don't know what you need until you have it.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 12 May 2017
|For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.|
Geekly Update - 10 May 2017
The Top Twenty
Beware of This Clever New Scam
Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions
Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter
Copyright © 2005
- Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
Article information: AskBobRankin -- Can You Live Without This New Gadget? (Posted: 12 May 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved