The Amazon Echo is a speaker and personal assistant meant to be used in the home, but a newer version that’s easier to use on the go might be in the works. Amazon is reportedly developing a new wireless Echo speaker roughly the size of a beer can, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The device, which is internally being called “Fox,” will likely be cheaper than the $180 full-sized Echo. The upcoming speaker can be charged via a docking station so that it doesn’t always have to remain plugged in, like the current model.
The drawback, however, is that the smaller Echo will only be able to respond to voice commands after the push of a button, in order to preserve battery life. The current Echo can listen up for voice commands completely hands free.
That feature, however, has stirred some concerns about privacy.
The more portable Echo is designed to fit in the palm of a user’s hand just like a beer can, people familiar with Amazon’s plans told The Journal. It was developed in Amazon’s Lab126, which is the same unit responsible for the company’s lineup of Fire products.
Amazon’s Echo is designed to bring the company’s virtual assistant Alexa to the living room. In addition to asking Alexa to play music from various streaming services, users can also request things like news updates, traffic reports, information on local businesses, and more. It can also control smart home devices such as those made by WeMo, Philips Hue, Wink, and Samsung SmartThings. Soon enough, you’ll even be able to start your Ford car through the Echo.
Since its November 2014 debut, the Echo has been a surprising success for Amazon. It was one of the most popular items ordered through Amazon’s Prime Now delivery service on Christmas Eve this holiday season. The device currently has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon’s website based on more than 30,000 customer reviews.
An Amazon spokesperson said the company doesn’t comment on rumors and speculation.