It didn’t take long. Just 48 hours after being publicly mocked by Apple vice president Phil Schiller, Amazon looks to be fighting back. Letting its products do the talking, Amazon is expected to announce a new touchscreen version of its Echo smart speaker later today.
Leaked images suggest the new Echo device will feature a 7-inch touchscreen with support for internet-based telephone and video calls. Powered by Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, the latest Echo is also expected to boast a number of Echo Look features, which is capable of offering fashion advice via its camera accessory that uses machine learning functions to pick out users’ outfits.
The expected announcement comes quickly after Apple VP Schiller said he had ‘nothing nice to say’ about the Amazon Echo or Google Home devices. “My mother used to have a saying that if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all," Schiller said.
Interestingly, Schiller’s main problem with both devices was the lack of a screen (which Amazon appears to have fixed). Teasing up a touchscreen, Siri-powered home device he said: "I think voice assistants are incredibly powerful, their intelligence is going to grow, they’re going to do more for us, but the role of the screen is going to remain very important to all of this," Schiller said. “We believe deeply in voice-driven assistant that’s why we invest in Siri. The idea of not having a screen, I don’t think suits many situations. There’s many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn’t mean you’d never want a screen,”
It now appears that Amazon has beaten Apple to the post in unveiling its touchscreen home assistant. The unnamed device is expected to retail for $200, which is $50 more than the Echo speaker currently on sale. Shipments are expected to start as early as June. Amazon is also rumoured to be lining up an announcement for a telephone service for Echo devices.