For more powerful competitors entering the smart speaker market, the first-entry player Amazon is reported to create a premium Alexa speaker launched in Q1 2017.
The Bloomberg source revealed that the new premium version will work with a seven-inch touch screen built-in. This new design might sound unnecessary for a voice-control speaker, however, it will make it easier to access some contents such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments and news, the report wrote.
The company is also working on audio quality improvement for the new device since some reviews commented about the poor speaker audio on the current Echo, as reported.
The new device will still run on Amazon’s operating system Fire OS. Features including voice commands and answering questions will also stay the same, just like current Alexa-enabled devices.
With the touch-screen, according to the report, Amazon is testing new features, like pinning items as photos or notes on the screen, to replace the behavior of sticking items on a refrigerator door.
Current Alexa-enabled devices like Dot, Tap and Echo will remain in the market while Amazon plans to set a higher price for the new premium device, as reported. The current Amazon smart speakers cost $50, $130 and $180 respectively. The new device is said to debut as soon as in Q1 2017.
The product line expansion comes as Google Home has attracted market voices and Apple is said to have interests entering the market with its Siri virtual assistant.
Amazon has brought Alexa to the company’s tablet devices Fire via software update. It’s not yet clear how Amazon will differentiate between the two user experiences – using tablets with Alexa and using Alexa smart speakers with tablet-like touch screen.