Amazon introduces voice-recognition service

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

NEW YORK (AP) - Siri, meet Alexa.

Amazon is introducing a voice-recognition service called Amazon Echo that comes with a speaker-like wireless device just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Responding to voice commands after the "wake word" Alexa, the device offers updates on news and weather and provides hands-free voice control for Amazon services such as Prime Music. It has an accompanying app for tablets and smartphones.

Amazon has been expanding its offerings for members of its $99 annual Prime loyalty club and other Amazon shoppers. It launched a smartphone, the Fire, earlier this year, and has offered a set-top video streaming device, a streaming video service, grocery delivery, music streaming and original TV shows such as the critically acclaimed "Transparent" starring Jeffrey Tambor.

The Echo, its latest offering, is available by email request only and costs $199, or $99 for Amazon Prime members. It competes with other voice-recognition services such as Apple's Siri.

"Amazon is the first to put a persistent microphone interface in your home, a listening and learning service that is ready to hear your every command," said Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey. "Sure, it doubles as a connected speaker and some people will end up buying it for that, but the Echo will only achieve its real purpose when you start asking it questions, having it complete tasks for you - especially shopping tasks - just the way Apple hopes its users will interact with Apple Watch."

Users can't buy anything through Echo yet except for digital music from Amazon Music. The Wi-Fi only device can play music from Amazon or other music services like iTunes and Spotify. It stores information in Seattle-based Inc.'s in-house cloud service, Amazon Web Services.

It can also answer common questions like how to spell words, give weather reports, set alarms and timers and grab information from Wikipedia.

Amazon shares closed up 12 cents at $296.64. The stock has lost about 25 percent this year.

Introducing Amazon Echo

More on
NYC prosecutor eyed for US attorney general
Remains found of missing Fox movie executive
Tower of London's poppy display for veterans wows
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners