Amazon Debuts New, Smaller Alexa-Enabled Devices: Echo Dot, Amazon Tap

Alexa is getting a few friends, two, to be exact. Amazon today launched the Amazon Tap and Echo Dot, smart speakers that incorporate personal assistant and know-it-all Alexa technology in smaller version of the company’s traditional Echo speaker. 

The e-tailer announced the new additions to the Alexa-enabled family today, noting that the smaller speakers were created as an answer to customers’ desire for smaller, portable versions of the tabletop Echo.

The $90 Echo Dot is described as a hands-free, voice controlled device that uses the same far-field voice recognition as a traditional Echo.

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The device can be connected directly to your speakers with an audio cable or via Bluetooth. Amazon says Dot adds voice-control to your existing home stereo system.

While Amazon will start preorders — exclusively for Prime members — for the device starting today, it’s only available through Alexa Voice Shopping, meaning you must have the original Echo speaker or FireTV. Orders can be placed by saying, “Alexa, order an Echo Dot.” There’s currently a limit of two Dots per customer.

The $130 Amazon Tap, first rumored to be in the works back in January, is essentially a smaller, portable version of Echo, complete with a carrying cradle that can connect to a backpack or allow the speaker to be easily held.

While the device offers all of the same capabilities as Echo – ordering pizza, reordering Amazon supplies, playing music, or searching for information – that option has to be triggered manually by hitting a button on the speaker. All Amazon customers can preorder the Tap directly from the e-tailer’s website, no Alexa required. The devices are expected to ship starting March 31.

VentureBeat reports that in addition to unveiling its new Alexa-enabled devices, Amazon also released a new developer API today that enables the devices to integrate with smart thermostats, like Nest.

[via VentureBeat]