Today I received an invite to buy the new Amazon Echo device, so obviously being the nerd that I am I had to pick one up. When this happen a little over a year ago with my Google Glass I was shocked at how quickly I received my pair of glasses after placing my order. Sadly, it doesn’t appear the Amazon team is as prepared with the Echo…
Expected delivery of July 1st! Are you kidding me!?
Now obviously I wasn’t expecting some free two day prime shipping with a new device like this, but I at least expected to get something this quarter! All that aside, according to Amazon the device is always learning, so at least the cloud based responses should be working a little better by the time I get it.
I am pretty excited to get a chance to check this thing out (although I was also once excited for the Google Glass and we know how that is turning out). It’d also be nice if there’s an open API by the time I get my Echo in the mail so I could mess around with making an app or something.
Here’s a quick overview…
Not all the press coverage has been very positive so far…
Here’s the email I received…
Dear Amazon Customer,
We’re excited to offer you an invitation to purchase Amazon Echo. We hope you’ll have as much fun using it as we did inventing it. By accepting this invitation, you will be one of the first customers to use Echo, and we appreciate your input to help shape Echo as it evolves.
To accept this invitation, go to the Amazon Echo page, add to cart, and purchase as usual. Due to strong customer response, new orders may take several months to ship. You will receive a delivery confirmation when your order is ready to ship.
The Amazon Echo Team
How long is my invitation valid?
Due to the high number of requests, invitations expire after seven days.
When will I get my Amazon Echo?
Once you’ve added Echo to your Shopping Cart and proceeded to checkout, you’ll see the estimated delivery date for your order. Due to high demand, new orders may take several months to ship. You will receive a delivery confirmation when your order is ready to ship.
Can I get a second Echo? Can I help a friend who has requested an invitation get one now?
Unfortunately, not at this time. Due to customer response, we’ve been able to fulfill only a small portion of the invitations requested, and Echo is limited to one per customer.
What music services can I listen to with Echo?
With Prime Music, Amazon Prime members can listen to over a million songs for free. You can also play music you’ve purchased or imported into your Amazon Music library. Plus, you can listen to thousands of radio stations and podcasts through iHeartRadio and TuneIn, and we will be adding more music services soon. You can also stream other music services to Echo from your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
What can I use as the wake word?
The default wake word is “Alexa” (our homage to the library of Alexandria). You can also change the wake word to “Amazon” in the settings section of the Echo companion app. We’ll be adding more wake words in the future.
How does Echo recognize the wake word “Alexa?”
Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word, and the wake word only. When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up. Echo then uses the processing power of Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to your request.
Will Echo understand me all the time?
No, the state-of-the-art technology for computer understanding of natural language doesn’t yet enable understanding all the time—but because Echo‘s brains are in the cloud, it will keep getting smarter.
What can’t Echo do yet?
Echo can’t yet provide services like traffic information, sports scores, or answers to current affairs questions. Stay tuned—we’re working on these and many more, and will let you know as we add more capabilities.
How do I give feedback?
You can always provide feedback through the Amazon Echo app, and from time to time we may email you for feedback about specific Echo features.
Do I have to charge Echo?
No. Echo is always on, uses wall power, and doesn’t need to be charged.
I’m a software developer, can I develop services for Echo?
We’d love to hear your ideas for what you might build for Echo. Contact us here.
What’s the first thing I should ask Echo?
You could ask Echo for weather information or a flash briefing. Ask Echo for the meaning of life, or to “open the pod bay doors.” Or just ask Echo to play some music. Echo might not always have the answer, but we hope you’ll have fun helping Echo get smarter.