1. Alexa: – voice command has come a long way with Siri, Cortana and Google Now, but they are all still fairly limited. The key is context – the broader the command set, the greater the chance for misinterpretation. Amazon’s Alexa has a narrower vocabulary, but is incredibly efficient at dealing with your commands. Sure there is some clear distinctions – if you want music from a certain playlist, you say something like “Alexa? Shuffle Playlist Mike” and she would reply “shuffling music from your playlist Mike”. If you mis-order the words, you won’t get the desired result – so you learn quickly.
2. Music and More than Music: – the obvious primary use of the Echo is to play music. The intrinsic control system is based around Amazon music – so Prime Music (assuming you have Prime), Amazon MP3 purchases, and music you uploaded. The ability to transfer my iTunes library to the Amazon music cloud and create a bunch of playlists to work by voice control is a joy.
3. Information Central: – the ability to walk into a room and say ‘Alexa, what’s the news?’ and get an NPR news report, sports summary and local weather forecast is such a wonderful thing. Seriously – every night when my wife and I go in to brush our teeth one of us chats up Alexa about news and weather, and we get a great overview of events and the 24-hour forecast. If we want more specific information – sports, 7-day forecast, etc – we just ask.
4. Growing integration – Aside from IHeartRadio and TuneIn radio, the recent update brings voice control over Bluetooth for your phone playing music from iTunes, Spotify or Pandora! The new update also gets responses more quickly and recognizes more words and makes fewer errors. It definitely seems like Amazon is positioning the Echo as the first of a series of devices looking for a central place in your home entertainment center.
5. Multi-Device Pairing – Sometimes all you want to do is stream something from your phone to a speaker. And since you get an intelligent pairing service with Alexa, it allows you to connect iOS and Android devices, and you can always link-up from your Amazon tablets. The other day Lisa wanted to play a specific song I hadn’t uploaded to Amazon yet, so she connected by Bluetooth. An hour or so later I was using my Kindle Fire HDx and connected quickly and easily – too often speakers get very picky about pairing, but not the Echo!
Three Reasons You Might Want to Give Amazon Echo a Pass for Now