After months of speculation, Amazon has finally announced that its Amazon Echo smart speaker range, which are powered by the company’s Alexa smart AI assistant, will be arriving in Australia early in 2018.
Much like Google’s recently-launched Home and Home Mini devices, the Amazon Echo is a small web-connected speaker that’s host to a voice-enabled smart assistant, which the mega-retailer’s dubbed Alexa.
The Echo can be used as the central hub for smart home and connected devices, or simply as a hands-free method for checking the weather or news, playing streaming music, and other such functions.
Amazon’s stated that Alexa will be getting her own Australian voice too, complete with a familiar accent and customised commands centred around “local knowledge and skills”.
Along with the products launching for Aussie consumers, Amazon is making available its development platforms, Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS), to anyone who’s interested in bringing their own customisation to the service.
Developing Alexa’s skills will give the assistant increased functionality and integration with other local services, and a variety of Australian companies, including Sky News, Fox Sports, Qantas and more, have already committed to creating their own skills.
Providing developer-access to the Alexa Voice Service, on the other hand, means that Australian hardware developers will be integrate Alexa directly into their devices.
Although there’s currently no firm release date, we have the promise of “early next year”, so keep your eyes peeled for a launch in the first few months of 2018.