Jeff asked: “I’ve heard there is a new device out there, kinda like the Amazon Echo. I was wondering if you could tell me what the name of that is and if you know the different features on it. They say there’s a lot more that it can do, than Alexa. Was wondering if you know anything about it.”
There are two Echo-lite devices out there: the Tap and the Dot. The Tap is supposed to be a portable Echo, it comes with Alexa OS, and pretty good 360 degree speakers, and it weighs a pound, but it is not always listening like the Echo (probably to protect the battery life), it’s smaller, and it comes with a built-in battery so you can take it on the go.
The Dot is Amazon’s response to people who said they loved the idea of Echo, but didn’t want to pay the better part of $200 and downgrade their speakers to be able to use it. The Dot looks like the top of an Echo, listens constantly and uses Alexa, but it doesn’t come with any built-in speakers, instead it just connects to whatever you already have at home. Both the Tap and the Dot are cheaper than the Echo, Echo costs $180, the portable Tap sells for $130, and the speakerless Dot goes for $80. They’re not particularly cheap devices, but if you are interested in having an Alexa-powered device to control a smarthome, they will cost you less than the Echo.
Also, if you have an iPhone, Amazon has released Alexa as an app for iOS. It isn’t as good of a general virtual assistant as even Siri, but it will allow you to connect with services that are designed to work with Alexa. The Alexa app is free and requires no hardware beyond your iPhone.