By Carlo Versano
At a previously-unannounced event, Amazon debuted a slew of new Alexa-based products Thursday, including a re-designed Echo Dot, a smart plug, and an Alexa-enabled microwave.
As Google quietly steals market share from Amazon in the smart speaker space ー the Home Mini [outsold] (https://techcrunch.com/2018/09/19/google-home-mini-was-the-best-selling-smart-speaker-in-q2/) the Echo Dot in the second quarter ー the e-commerce giant is refocusing some attention on its "smart" product line, which it sees as a crucial entryway for consumers into the wildly profitable Amazon ecosystem.
The new Echo Dot, Amazon's bestselling smart product, features a fabric design that is similar to the Google Home Mini. It will come in new colors and offer better audio quality; the item's price will remain $50. The Echo Plus is also also getting a fabric refresh, a temperature sensor, and will keep its price tag of $150.
Amazon is also introducing the Echo Input ー which can attach to a "dumb" speaker to make it "smart" ー and a smart plug that can convert certain appliances into smart devices.
The Echo Show also gets a new design treatment. The company is hoping the $230 video speaker becomes a hub for voice shopping and video calls.
For the kitchen, Amazon is introducing its first appliance: a $60 microwave with Alexa integration for those too lazy to hit the "reheat" button and even a Dash feature to quickly reorder popcorn ー and only popcorn.
With the hardware, came an announcement of several new software features and upgrades intended to extend Alexa's reach further in the home.
The voice assistant will now recognize a whisper and respond in kind, arm an internet-connected security system, and remind you to lock the door before bed.