Microwave. Subwoofer. Smart plug. In-car device.
Those are just a handful of the new devices Amazon debuted on Thursday as the tech giant continues to push its voice platform, Alexa, into the home and compete with others building similar technology, including Google and Microsoft.
Amazon officials said they had about 70 things to announce, which elicited laughs from reporters and photographers in attendance. But it turns out that number was pretty close.
Amazon showed off 13 new devices at a press event inside the Spheres building at its Seattle HQ. It also unveiled a flurry of new Alexa-related software capabilities, developer tools and other features.
Here’s a quick rundown of each device and new Alexa features.
Echo Dot ($50)
Amazon redesigned its cheapest smart speaker with new mesh fabric and improved sound. It still costs $50 and ships next month.
Echo Input ($35)
This new device is similar to the Echo Dot, but does not have a built-in speaker and is designed instead to connect to third-party speakers. It costs $35 and ships later this year.
Echo Link ($199) and Echo Link Amp ($299)
Amazon is taking aim at Sonos, which saw shares drop by 4 percent on Thursday, with new speaker accessories. The Echo Link, priced at $199, is an audio component and connects to existing AV receivers and speakers. The Echo Link Amp, priced at $299, does the same, but also includes a built-in amplifier. Both can be controlled by voice, the Alexa app, or other Echo devices. They ship later this year.
Echo Sub ($130)
This is a $130 wireless subwoofer that works with Echo devices to create 1.1 or 2.1 pairing for stereo sound. It also has an equalizer feature.
Echo Plus ($150)
Amazon redesigned its high-end Echo speaker with improved sound and a new temperature sensor. It also has a new feature called “Local Voice Control” that lets users control the device without an internet connection. The $150 price hasn’t changed.
AmazonBasics Microwave ($60)
“Alexa, cook my potato.” This new $60 WiFi-connected and Alexa-enabled AmazonBasics Microwave doesn’t have Alexa built in, but works with any accompanying Alexa-enabled device. It also has a built-in Dash replacement feature, allowing users to order items such as popcorn. The device will ship later this year.
Echo Wall Clock ($30)
The Echo Wall Clock features a LED ring that can display multiple timers and show visual animations for alarms. Similar to the microwave, the clock does not have Alexa built in and requires an accompanying device.
Amazon Smart Plug ($25)
The WiFi-enabled Amazon Smart Plug allows users to control ordinary appliances with their voice and a compatible Alexa-enabled device. It costs $25.
Echo Show ($230)
The new Echo Show has been redesigned with a smaller size but larger display. There’s now Skype support for voice calls, along with Silk and Firefox browsers, and integration with Amazon Meal Kits. It’s available next month for the same price, $230. New integrations with Hulu and NBC allow users to tune into live TV on the device.
Echo Auto ($50)
Echo Auto is a small $50 Alexa-enabled device designed to sit on a car dashboard. It connects to your phone via bluetooth. Echo Auto will ship later this year on an invitation-only basis.
Fire TV Recast ($230)
Fire TV Recast pairs with a TV antenna and can air live TV, with a DVR feature that can record shows. It streams to Fire TV, Android, iOS, Echo Show, Sony TV, and Lenovo tablets. The $230 version has two tuners with 500GB of storage; there’s a $280 version that has four tuners and 1TB of storage.
Ring Stick Up Cam ($180)
Ring, acquired by Amazon for $1 billion earlier this year, is releasing a new home security camera. It comes in both wired and battery-powered versions.
New Alexa skills and developer tools
Cloud-residing Alexa is also getting additional features, and there are some enhancements to simplify connecting the growing family of Amazon devices to WiFi and each other, and changes to what existing devices can do.
Amazon officials said Alexa now has more than 50,000 skills, and the company is working to put its digital brain everywhere. A big part of that is through opening up Alexa to third-party developers. Amazon unveiled nine new or updated developers tools on Thursday, spanning everything from multi-room music to smart home to more easily connecting to Alexa.
Here are the new Alexa features, many of which are available later this year:
- Alexa Guard. Certain Echo devices will be able to listen for sounds such as breaking glass, and smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarms, and then send alerts, when Guard mode is activated when an owner leaves home. Alexa also can selectively turn lights off and on when no one is home using an Away Lighting feature and integrate with alarm systems from ADT and Amazon-owned Ring.
- Hunches. When used for a smart home, this feature “learns” day-to-day habits and suggests when your lights or other connected smart devices are not in the state you normally leave them.
- Frustration Free Setup. A new Wi-Fi simple set up feature will allow connecting selected Amazon smart devices to a Wi-Fi network and Alexa by using voice commands or using the Alexa app to scan a barcode.
- Local Voice Control. Where internet isn’t working or is unreliable, voice can still be used to control lights, plugs and switches connected to an Echo with a built-in smart home hub.
- Video Doorbell. Echo Show will add a two-way talk feature that works with Ring and August doorbell cameras, allowing a voice command to see and talk to whoever is at the door. Alexa also will be able to notify you when someone rings a Ring or August doorbell camera.
- Alexa Routine additions. Alexa routines will support actions based on location, timed delays, temperature and motion.
- Location-Based Reminders. Reminders can be set to trigger when you leave or arrive at home or at work.
- Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions. Alexa supports walking through recipes, a step at a time, from Kitchen Stories, Allrecipes, Epicurious, Food52, TheKitchn, and SideChef.
- Multi-step Requests. Alexa can handle more complex requests with multiple steps. For example, users can add several items to their shopping list in a single command or turn up the volume and start a playlist on an Echo with one ask.
- Email Integration. After linking a Gmail, Outlook.com, or Hotmail.com account in the Alexa app, the digital brain can check and reply to messages.
- Whisper Mode. With this update, whispering a request to Alexa elicits a whispered response.
- Tidal coming to Echo devices. The streaming music service Tidal will be available on all Echo devices later this year.
- Echo Stereo Pairing. Users can connect two of the same Echo devices to create a left-right stereo experience.
- Amazon Music New Release Notifications. Alexa can follow artists and notify users through Echo devices or Amazon Music when new albums or tracks come out.
- Preferred Speaker. Within the Alexa app, users can set a default speaker, and it can be an Echo device, a third-party speaker with Alexa support or a multi-room series of group speakers.
- Visual Alexa Blueprints. Building on Alexa Blueprints, this skill lets users create and share personalized video messages.
- FreeTime features. The service that lets parents load up devices with kid-friendly content has added Kid Routines, combining actions like saying goodnight turning off the lights and starting white noise machines. Amazon also added family-friendly podcasts to FreeTime and new Alexa skills.
GeekWire reporters Nat Levy, Taylor Soper and Frank Catalano contributed to this report.