The Amazon Echo personal assistant device is now available to the general public. The device had for the last seven months been available as an invitation-only purchase. The Echo will be available for $179, and begins shipping on July 14.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:
Today, we are excited to announce that Amazon Echo is available to everyone.
We launched Echo as an invitation-only program in November to learn how customers would use and enjoy it most. The response has been overwhelming.
Echo was born from a simple idea: create a computer, controlled entirely by your voice. This idea required some incredible invention. It had to understand natural language requests, from many voices, from across a room, even when music is playing. It also needed to be informative, entertaining, and useful—while always getting smarter.
The Echo sports seven microphones, equipped with noise canceling technology, allowing users to ask questions or issue commands using natural language from almost anywhere in the room. The Echo uses Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice information service that provides information, music, news, weather, and more.
While the Echo commands were basic at first, Amazon has steadily added new features over the last seven months. Since the launch of the Echo, Amazon has added streaming music from Pandora, audiobooks from Audible, calendar access, live sports scores and schedules, traffic reports, Amazon.com re-ordering, control of connected devices such as lights and switches from WeMo and Philips Hue, and more.
Amazon has also kicked off a developer program for the Echo, allowing developers to make apps that will interact with the device.
For more information about the Echo, or to place an order, visit Amazon.com.