Amazon launches Echo smart speaker

Amazon launches Echo smart speaker here

Amazon launches Echo smart speaker here

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The firm has announced it will start selling voice-activated smart speaker system Echo in the UK.

Using the online retailer’s digital assistant Alexa - Amazon’s equivalent of Apple’s Siri - the Echo allows owners to do everything from play music or get the latest news headlines to turning on the lights or changing the heating settings.

The 360-degree speaker uses an array of seven microphones to pick up voice commands and then uses Alexa to interpret them, offering hands-free operation.

At its most simple the Echo can play music via either Bluetooth or from cloud services such as Amazon Music and Spotify.

However, you can also ask it to give you the latest sports results, check weather and traffic conditions, check you calendar, set alarms and even read you an audiobook.

If you have smart home devices such as lights, switches and thermostats you can control them with a simple word or two directed at the Echo.

And the Echo has also been designed to work with various third parties. In the UK Amazon has teamed up with the likes of JustEat, Uber and Network Rail to allow you to order food, book a taxi and even check train times all without having to even pick up your smartphone.

The Echo, priced at £150, can be ordered now and will begin shipping to customers on 28 September. Amazon says that as a ‘thank you’ Amazon Prime customers who order in the next two days will receive a £50 discount.

Echo has been on sale in the US for two years and has been a huge success but Amazon said the variations in language and accents across Europe had led to a far longer testing period before its release here.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO commented: “Millions across the US have already fallen in love with Alexa. And, predictably, she’s even more likeable with a British accent.

“We’re delighted to be bringing Echo and Alexa to the UK.”

The firm’s Echo Dot is also being released in the UK, bringing the same voice-control facilities to existing home stereos by simply connecting it to a set of speakers. Priced at £50, it is available for order now but won’t reach customers until late October.