(Pocket-lint) - Amazon is holding a 'Devices and Services' launch event later today. Here's what to expect from the event.
While we’ve been to Seattle for the event for the last three years, this time things will be different and – naturally – it’s taking the form of an online presentation which starts at 10am PDT, 1pm EDT, 6pm BST, 7pm CEST and 10.30pm IST.
However, the presentation won’t be publicly available, so you’ll have to keep your eyes on Pocket-lint for the latest news.
As before, Amazon has said this event is “devices and services” related meaning that we won’t only be getting new hardware. Last year it was announced that you could delete your Alexa recordings whenever you wanted. Plus it previewed a range of celebrity voices for Alexa.
Amazon also revealed a smart ring (Echo Loop), smart glasses (Echo Frames) and a Smart Oven to go with its already-launched microwave and this time around we'll no doubt get some other ideas thrown at the wall in the hope that some of them will stick (we were thinking about the Echo Wall Clock there, but in actual fact ours is ace). What about the Echo Glow? No, we haven't seen one either.
There were also Echo Buds, Amazon’s first effort at true wireless earphones plus new Eero routers and Ring cameras from Amazon’s sub-brands.
This year we’re not expecting quite so many devices to launch, but then we’ve said that before… However due to the current global situation, Amazon might not be as experimental in terms of the lineup this time, but we shall see.
Will there be a new Echo speaker?
The basic Echo speaker had a new lease of life last year, while the more expensive Echo Studio was soft-launched before its eventual November debut.
But the Echo Plus now appears to have gone end-of-life (no wonder as the 3rd gen Echo has the same audio capabilities) and so there’s surely room for a revamped Echo Plus in between the basic Echo and the Studio, around the $130/£130 mark.
Also, could there be a replacement for the long-gone Amazon Tap – the portable Echo that never made it to Europe? We’ve seen other portable Echo devices from other vendors such as UE and Pure in addition to Sonos Move but could Amazon announce its own?
Reworked Alexa Buds
It’s fair to say that the first version of the Alexa Buds wasn’t as good as they could have been. They boasted water resistance and Bose-enhanced noise reduction but were plasticky while the sound needed improvement.
Expect a second-generation version – or a Pro version, perhaps – to go up against Apple’s AirPods Pro and numerous other rivals.
A new flagship Echo Show
So expect a larger Echo Show to debut that not only sounds good but looks good too. There should be a higher resolution screen, too, although the one thing that would make Echo Show exponentially more useful is native YouTube and support for more video calling services than just Skype…
Fuelling Fire TV
Last year the Fire TV announcements took place at the IFA show in Berlin. But with that show having been scaled back this year for obvious reasons, it falls to this event. Expect further announcements of TVs that have Alexa built-in to the screen itself. That'll mean more TVs with the Fire TV OS as well as a new entry-level Fire TV Streaming Stick.
We might also get an improved Fire TV Cube. The second-generation device was introduced last year and had a lot of promise for controlling set-top boxes, TVs and soundbars with Alexa but it was hard to set up as we found in our review (the user reviews don’t make for pretty reading, either).
New Alexa smarts
Google used the last couple of Google I/O events (before the non-existent one in 2020) to really showcase the direction and power of Google Assistant – calling using Duplex being one super example.
Could we also get a look at where Alexa can take us in future. While Alexa Skills and Routines ensure the assistant is capable of much more, Alexa has a bit of a disadvantage versus Siri or Google Assistant in that it’s not on millions of phones by default.
Home security and a thermostat?
Amazon now has various smart home accessories including a smart plug, while in the US there is Alexa Guard – a service where your Echo listens out for trouble. Could we get better management of all this stuff, plus some other low-cost gap-fillers like window or door alarms?
We also wonder whether Amazon will try and enter the smart thermostat market - at last - to take the fight to Google Nest (and Hive).
However, Amazon’s smart home effort all feels a little piecemeal at present aside from the excellent Ring ecosystem.