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Just as we expected our smartphones to do more than make phone calls, we’ve come to expect our smart speakers to do more than play music. The original Amazon Echo was announced in late 2014, empowering our homes with easier, voice-activated access to the Alexa personal assistant. Soon, we’ll be able to see what we’re doing too, because Amazon wants to add a toucshcreen.

This goes in utterly the opposite direction that Amazon took with the smaller Echo Dot this past March. That was meant to be as cheaper entry point into the Echo ecosystem. With the next Echo, likely launching some time next year, Amazon wants to move more upscale.

According to sources whispering in the ears of Bloomberg editors, the 2017 premium Amazon Echo will reportedly get a 7-inch touchscreen. It goes without saying that this will make it easier to see your weather reports and your calendar appointments, for example, instead of the speaker just reading out the words to you. Word is that the new Echo will get “high-grade” speakers too.

In practice, it sounds like the touchscreen-touting Amazon Echo will function not unlike the Fire tablets and Fire TV that Amazon is already rocking. It’ll get an “optimized” version of Fire OS, possibly with the ability to “pin” information to the home screen.

Since this new device effectively duct tapes an Echo speaker to a Fire tablet (I’m calling it an Echo Fire until they correct me), it’ll likely cost more than either item individually. For reference, the current Amazon Echo is about $180 and Fire tablets start as low as $50. If these rumors hold true, the new smart speaker with a screen could ship in the first quarter of 2017.


Is the addition of a screen enough to get you to want this instead of Google Home or the rumored Apple smart speaker?

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