Amazon’s getting into home appliances. Seriously.
At its largely Echo- and Alexa-focused event in Seattle today, the company announced the AmazonBasics Microwave, a voice-enabled microwave oven that taps Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service to restock your pantry (should you run out of TV dinners, for instance). Also on tap? The Echo Wall Clock, an analog clock with Alexa-powered voice recognition.
Also announced today: the Fire TV Recast DVR and Echo Auto in-car system; the 2018 Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show; and the Echo Sub, Echo Link Amp, Echo Link, and Amazon Smart Plug.
Details were hard to come by at publication time, but here’s what we gleaned from the press preview: The Wi-Fi-enabled AmazonBasics Microwave will start at $60 when it goes on sale November 14, and in addition to Dash Replenishment (which can only order popcorn, unfortunately), it boasts the standard array of Alexa features including integration with connected ovens, door locks, and other smart fixtures, reminders, and access to more than 50,000 third-party skills. Alexa isn’t actually built into it, though — you’ll need an Echo to pair it with.
Its voice controls also extend to cooking timers. You can say things like “Alexa, add 30 seconds to the microwave” to update a countdown, or even just “Alexa, one potato” (Alexa is activated with the press of a button on the microwave’s side).
The $30 Echo Wall Clock — a 10-inch, battery-powered which looks like the sort of inconspicuous clock you might see hanging in an elementary school classroom — features a clever ring of 60 LEDs around the rim that show ongoing Alexa timers. (If you add a second timer to it, it’ll light up a second LED.) Another nifty feature: automatic time syncing and Daylight Savings Time adjustment.
Also announced today: the Echo Sub, Amazon’s answer to voice-enabled premium audio products like Apple’s HomePod, Sonos One, and Google Home Max; the Echo Input, a wireless accessory that connects to legacy speakers; the Echo Link Amp and Echo Link, amplifiers with multiple audio inputs and outputs; and Amazon Smart Plug, a connected outlet plug.
Amazon’s move into the appliance space builds on earlier momentum. At IFA 2018 in Berlin this year, Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of smart home, announced that Alexa is integrated with over 20,000 devices (up from 4,000 eight months earlier) such as Huawei’s AI Cube smart speaker, Yale’s Sync home alarm system, and Asus’ ZenBook laptops. He said that in that time, the number of brands using Alexa had nearly tripled from 1,200 to 3,500, and that the number of third-party apps — skills, in Amazon’s parlance — available on Alexa surpassed 50,000.
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