Amazon Echo: What's new?

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By Martin Driver 15 Feb 2018

Amazon’s latest Alexa device has a few great new features that make it even more useful than before.

The Echo Spot has a spherical screen that gives you more info than the older models ever could.

*Note: We refer to ‘Skills’ in this guide, which are apps you download to Alexa to give it more features and functionality.

What’s new?

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The screen -  the only other Echo with one is the larger ‘Show’. However, the Spot is smaller and more discrete, so it gives you the benefit of touch control without it standing out.

 
 
 
 

Video calling

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Amazon Alexa now supports free video calling between other Echo devices and phones with the Alexa app.

When you set up the Alexa app, you can import your contacts. You can call anyone in your Alexa contacts with a voice command - just say ‘Alexa, call Dad’.

You can still call people without the Alexa app too, just like any other Bluetooth hands-free phone kit. 

Smart security cameras & baby monitors

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If you have a smart security camera or baby monitor, you can stream a live video feed from it to your Echo Spot.

All you need to do is download the skill for your camera to get it working.

If yours doesn’t work right now, don’t worry - Amazon allows any smart camera maker update their products to work with the Spot, so there’s a good chance they’ll be compatible soon.

If you’re getting a new one, just check that it works with Alexa before you buy it.

News & weather

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There are a few different Alexa news skills that read headlines or breaking news to you on the speaker-only Echo devices.

 
 
 
 

By default, the Spot shows you rolling international headlines and local weather reports on the screen. There are loads of news and weather skills, so just search for your favourite to find out about interesting events as they happen.

Music

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All Echo speakers play music from Spotify, Amazon Music, and TuneIn.

The Spot shows the artwork for the track you’re listening to and lets you skip songs by tapping the touchscreen.

 
 
 
 

It’s a small update, but it makes more of a difference than we were expecting.

Videos

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If you have Amazon Prime or have videos stored on your phone, you can watch them on the Spot. However, YouTube isn’t supported at the moment due to a legal dispute between Amazon and Google.

Try ‘Alexa, watch ‘The Grand Tour’ from Amazon Prime.

Alarm clock

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You can set alarms on any Echo  by saying ‘Alexa, set an alarm for 6 am tomorrow’. However, you can’t see the time or snooze without croaking a sleepy ‘Alexa, snooze alarm’ command.

The Spot lets you snooze by tapping the screen, so you don't need to check the time on your phone or speak when you’re only half awake.

You can also see all of your set alarms by asking ‘Alexa, show me my alarms’.

These things all make the Spot more interactive and easier to live with than the older versions, so it’s worth considering one as an upgrade if you’re already an Alexa user.

If you’re replacing an older one, it won’t go to waste either, as you can have several Echos around your house all running off the same Alexa account.

These things are just the beginning - as new devices and skills are released, the Echo Spot will gain loads of new features.  

We can talk about Alexa and smart tech all day, so find us on Facebook and Twitter if you have any questions.

If you want to ask us about an order or speak to someone on the phone, you can find out how on our contact us page.

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