Curiosity made me purchase my first Amazon Echo. I went all in with Alexa after ordering my first one. It’s funny now, how I nearly forgot about the order when it arrived.
My Echo Show arrived on June 28th. While I won’t award Amazon any product design awards for the hardware, the inclusion of the camera and screen speak to a new and different future for this Amazon device. After I unboxed my Echo Show, I almost immediately did a video chat with a former colleague in Florida. Granted it wasn’t professional grade video conferencing but it was an OK experience for a first generation consumer device. Echo Show could make video conferencing accessible to mass consumers.
I like the potential of the Echo Show for light video conferencing between family, friends, and old colleagues who live a distance from each other. Hopefully, we’ll see some video conferencing and unified communications (UC) vendors develop Alexa Show skills to integrate their platforms with this new class of hardware.
However, to take advantage of the Echo Show’s screen, you’ll have to give the device a prominent spot in the room. For example, I had the first generation Amazon Echo in my home office sitting behind my cable broadband modem and wireless router. It was behind the scenes but always there to play music, follow my other commands, and to turn my lights off and on. When I unboxed my new Echo Show, I had to give it a new spot on one of my home office desks to the side of where I sit.
The Echo Show speakers sound better than the speakers on my other Echos. I’ll be working at home a bit more during the next few weeks, so I hope to give the Amazon Echo Show speakers a proper workout with the Spotify playlists I play for background music.
Right out of the gate, Amazon is giving developers the tools to build skills for the Echo Show. The public documentation they’ve released should hopefully seed new skills that’ll attract even more consumer users, eHealth, and even business users to the platform.
In fact, there are already smart home camera vendors like Arlo and Nest releasing Alexa skills to enable users to view camera footage from the Echo Show’s screen. I normally check my smart home cameras from either my iPad or iPhone.
I wonder what the future of hardware expansion is for the Echo Show and other similar devices. I don’t see any kind of ports on the device, but I imagine they must be on a roadmap somewhere as more enterprise and eHealth users of the Echo Show make their presence known.
One thing that still dogs me about the original Amazon Echo is that it’s so easy to forget commands for Amazon Echo skills. The Echo Show runs teasers about Echo commands at the bottom of the screen which I found helpful. I also like how the Echo Show displays my calendar on its screen.
The Echo Show only puts Amazon further out ahead in the virtual assistant market. Opening up Amazon Echo Show skills to the widest audience of developers is only going to help them maintain that lead.
Share your thoughts about the Echo Show in the comments.
Will Kelly is a technical writer and content creator based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, Network World, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.
Originally published at willkelly.blog on July 6, 2017.