Amazon’s Amazon Echo voice-activated, connected home command center is now available for anybody to purchase. The Siri-like device will start shipping July 14.
The cylindrical Echo, which responds to voice commands and allows a user to learn the weather, set alarms, and listen to music, had a limited launch in fall 2014. Since then, Amazon has added many new features to the Echo, including compatibility with the music streaming service Pandora, the audiobook service Audible, and more.
“We are grateful to our early customers for their incredible engagement and for providing us with invaluable feedback to help shape Echo as it evolves—with their help, we’ve been able to add features like Audible, Pandora, home automation, sports scores, calendar, and more,” said Amazon Echo vice president Greg Hart in a statement. “We’re excited to get Echo into the hands of even more customers and continue to invent new features and experiences.”
At the end of last year, current Fortune senior editor Stacey Higginbotham wrote that her family liked Echo’s linguistic prowess, but disliked its limited compatibility with many of the services and smart home devices her family uses, such as Google Calendars, “If This Then That,” and Philips Hue bulbs. As Hart’s comment indicates, Amazon has been listening. All those capabilities are newly added features to the Amazon Echo.
Amazon Echo works by triggering when summoned by the name “Alexa.” That’s the name of the Amazon Web Services-powered “brains behind Echo,” a natural language processing tool similar to Apple’s Siri. Since the gadget is always listening for that so-called wake word (which can also be changed to “Amazon”), some watchdogs have pointed out potential privacy concerns.
The device costs $179.99 and can be ordered on Amazon’s website. Customers can expect more functionality and skills to roll out later this year, the company says.
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