Amazon unveils new Echo smart devices

Amazon has unveiled a range of Echo smart devices, including the firm’s first Alexa-enabled earphones and a new high-powered music speaker.

The technology giant confirmed it will release the wireless Echo Buds earphones later this year, which can be controlled using virtual helper Alexa.

The new Echo Studio speaker will be the first capable of playing 3D audio through its five built-in directional speakers, as well as high definition audio.

The technology giant also announced a pair of Alexa-enabled glasses called Echo Frames, and a smart ring called Echo Loop – both of which are still being tested but will be available for some customers to buy and test.

The Echo Dot With Clock
The Echo Dot With Clock

Alongside the new products, Amazon also said it was committed to user privacy and announced a number of new privacy-focused tools.

The company’s head of devices, Dave Limp, announced new questions users can ask Alexa about what the virtual assistant heard.

Amazon also confirmed a new auto-delete function for audio recordings was to be introduced, allowing users to automatically delete their recordings permanently after either three or 18 months.

“We care about privacy,” Mr Limp said.

“It is foundational to what we do in and around Alexa.”

Earlier this year, Amazon was one of several tech giants hit by a privacy scandal linked to human staff listening to and analysing user audio recordings.

Mr Limp said “every product we make” had privacy at its heart, and pointed to the physical camera shutter than had been added to the Echo Show 5 launched earlier this year as proof the company was increasing its privacy measures.

He added that Amazon had been the first company to allow users to opt-out of the human review programme going forward.

“This is a good step forward but we will continue to listen to customers and improve,” Mr Limp said.

Amazon’s new devices were unveiled as part of a major refresh of the tech company’s Echo smart speaker range, which also included a new version of the original Echo speaker with an improved speaker and the new Echo Dot With Clock which now includes an LED display to show the time and countdown timers.

The Echo Buds are Amazon’s first wearable, hands-free Alexa-based device, and have been developed alongside audio firm Bose.

Also among the new devices was the Echo Flex, a small, wireless smart speaker which plugs directly into a wall socket and works as a budget smart home device.

Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice president of Amazon devices international, said: “We love hearing feedback from customers about how they use Alexa throughout their day – whether that’s listening to music, dropping in on a loved one, trying out a new recipe or playing a game with the family.

“We hope these new Echo devices will give customers even more ways to access Alexa—whether that’s through the best-sounding Echo yet – Echo Studio, the reimagined Echo and Echo Dot, new designs like Echo Show 8 and Echo Flex, or new experiences for Alexa on-the-go with Echo Buds.”