Alexa is poised for a major breakout. Over the past few months, Amazon’s AI assistant has expanded to the iPhone in the Amazon app, Android with the Huawei Mate 9, and gotten a camera upgrade with the fashion-minded Echo Look. But a new leak suggests Amazon has even bigger plans for Alexa.
And by bigger, we mean bigger. A leaked photo first published on AFTV News (followed up with a higher-resolution one tweeted by Android leakster extraordinaire Evan Blass) shows a pretty massive new form factor for Echo. Coupled with what looks like a 9- or 10-inch screen above a flat speaker grille, the new device shows a full-color display showing the time, date, and weather, along with the next appointment on your schedule.
It also shows a chat icon with a notification badge on it, which could indicate a new Prime messaging service, or integration with iOS or Android. It’s unclear from the picture whether the screen is touch-sensitive, but there are six dots near the bottom, seemingly for swiping through additional pages.
Additionally, the product appears to have a camera above the screen, meaning it could dispense fashion advice like the Echo Look.
Amazon was the first to bring AI to the living room with the Echo, but it’s no longer the only player in the game. Google has been rapidly expanding its Home speaker, including support for multiple users and a new SDK for integration with third-party products, and Apple has been rumored to be releasing a Siri-enabled speaker at the Worldwide Developers Conference next month.
CNET had previously reported on an Echo device with a built-in screen, saying that the new device was due as early as next month. The site said Amazon was ramping up its AI efforts in response to Google's aggressive push.
Alexa, what is this: While the rumor of a touchscreen Echo certainly sounds intriguing, if this picture represents the final product, the device might struggle to resonate with consumers. Where the Echo’s industrial look is somewhat charming, this design is pretty off-the-mark. Amazon has had its failures before, but it seemed to find its aesthetic sweet spot with the Echo, particularly with the svelte camera-based Look it unveiled last week. But judging on the picture here, it looks like Amazon took the worst parts of the Fire Phone, Kindle, and Echo and jammed them all into a bizarrely-shaped product. But we’ll hold our judgment (sort of) until we get to see the real thing.