Amazon Echo Gets Smaller, Smarter, and Wire-Free

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Amazon's talking cylinder is reportedly about to get a little brother. First released in 2014 for $180, the Amazon Echo is a small tower of electronics, roughly the size of a Pringles can, that responds to your spoken commands to maintain a shopping list, read you the news, and control your music. Amazon is slated to release a new take on the Echo, shrinking it down to the size of a beer can, adding some functionality, and reducing the price. "As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on rumors and speculation," says Amazon. But that didn't stop us from getting excited about what's to come.

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For now, it's called Fox. Where the Echo required a wired power connection to the wall, the Fox will charge via docking station, so that you can carry it around with you. Alexa, Amazon's digital personal assistant and response to Siri, has learned a few new tricks, too.

Traffic and Weather Reports
As easily as you can ask, "What's the traffic like?" or "What's the weather?" your disembodied personal assistant will provide you with the information you need.

Access to Yelp Ratings and Recommendations
Soon you won't even have to open a browser page to find out if your neighborhood's new Thai place is worth a visit. Just ask your Internet-connected beer can.

Integration With Music Streaming Services
It's unknown specifically which services it will support, but this points to voice-activated control of your Spotify tunes.

Smart-Home Compatibility
People are increasingly tricking out their houses such that they can control fine details and settings, from the thermostat to the doors to the lights. The Echo works with some devices, but aims to be much more compatible for ruling your personal Internet of Things and connected home.