Amazon has big plans for Echo.
According to Bloomberg, the online retailer is planning a major update to its line of voice-activated speakers. It is developing a premium speaker with a 7-inch screen. Amazon’s original Echo speaker is a cylindrical device that can be controlled mostly through the digital assistant named Alexa. By adding a screen, Amazon is hoping to make it even easier for users to access content.
The upcoming speaker will apparently be larger and equipped with higher-grade speaker. It'll also tilt upward so the screen can be visible when it sits on a tabletop while someone is standing and using it to look up weather, calendar appointments, and news. This Echo-like device, which runs an optimised version of Fire OS, is expected to be unveiled by the first quarter of 2017.
Fire OS is used to power Amazon’s Fire tablets and set-top boxes. With this software, the speaker will still respond to verbal commands and spoken questions, but it'll have new capabilities, such as a feature that allows users to pin items like photos to their speaker’s screen. Think of it like a refrigerator door. In other words, Amazon sees a lot of potential for Echo in the kitchen.
Amazon reportedly plans to keep selling the Dot, Tap and Echo speakers, which cost $50, $130, and $180, respectively. The new model with a screen will likely cost more. If you recall, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Amazon’s Lab126 hardware unit was working on an Alexa-powered device with tablet-like display (it's known internally as “Knight").