The Echo has been such a home run for Amazon that it's coming out with two more variations of it: the Echo Dot and the Tap. Why is it so popular? Because it's just high-tech enough to be more than a party trick, and getting more useful quickly, with varied additions coming at a breakneck pace. Here are some of the best functions it has — worth dropping between $90 and $180 for now.
Smart Home Control
Look, we know figuring out how to make all your smart home gear work nicely with each other can be a pain in the ass. But the Echo can help. Have a WeMo coffee maker and Phillips lighting system? You can control both through the same interface, all by voice commands. That means you can buy the best products and still have synergy, without worrying about staying on brand.
A Personal Assistant
We're used to a lot of services being available from our smartphones, but Alexa makes it easier to do what you need to do without menus. Have an Uber sent to your house, have the scores from the big game reported to you, or just get the weather and news. Echo handles all of the little things that you'd perhaps do from your phone, but with just a shout, not a series of screen taps.
App functionality lets you control your Echo hub from a distance, but Amazon has done one better now. The new Amazon Tap has all of the functionality of Echo in a portable WiFi-enabled Bluetooth speaker, so you can walk around the house to different rooms and have the same Echo functionality. Same goes for outdoors, or from the office, car, or beach — anywhere you can sync to your phone.
It goes beyond playing audiobooks, Spotify, or Pandora with the Echo. All of those things can be done with verbal commands, sure, but Alexa can find you a Chinese food place in the area, order directly from Domino's, and check the traffic. You can even dim the smart bulbs when the special guest is on their way for the surprise party you're throwing.
More to Come
Amazon is adding more functionality all the time. We expect easier purchases on Amazon will continue to be a priority. Already you can add things to your cart and re-order previous purchases. Now Amazon is making suggestions and alternate offers verbally, so you can pick the laundry detergent brand you want, and get some more of those plastic cups for the next tailgate without hitting up your computer.