When Apple unveiled its HomePod Siri-speaker at WWDC last month, the company’s executives openly flaunted the premium device’s superior audio quality — specifically comparing it to the inferior audio quality of Amazon’s Echo. Although the $349 Siri-only speaker won’t officially hit store shelves until sometime this December, a new report alleges that Amazon is already in the process of taking a big page out of Apple’s playbook.
According to Engadget, who published a report this week citing sources familiar with the eCommerce-giant’s plans, Amazon is currently working to develop a next-generation Echo device that will not only bring superior audio playback to the Alexa-powered voice-driven assistant, but in many ways will materially emulate Apple’s HomePod more than it will the current, plastic-coated Echo devices.
As such, the next Echo will not only boast “multiple tweeters,” which are said to dramatically improve audio quality according to Engadget’s sources, but it will also house multiple microphones to help improve the accuracy and range of voice recognition in various environments. Additionally, the design of the next Echo will physically look more like a HomePod than an Echo, and will borrow attributes such as a rounded chassis that’s both “slimmer and shorter” than the current Echo, which measures roughly 9-inches tall, in comparison to the HomePod’s stubby, 7-inch stature. To put it visually, Engadget’s sources say the height of the new Echo will equal the rough equivalent of four Echo Dots stacked atop one another like pancakes.
Other than that, not much else is known about the new Echo device. It will, however, represent an extension of Amazon’s existing line of Echo devices — rather than creating an entirely new product category all its own, as the HomePod will for Apple. Price wise, sources had no indication as to how much the new Echo would cost, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that Amazon will work hard to undercut Apple’s $349 HomePod. Of course, given the current Echo retails for around half the price a HomePod will cost, that gives the company plenty of wiggle room to price the unit competitively.
Sources say they’ve personally seen a functional prototype of the new Echo, and that it looked “polished.” In terms of a release date, Amazon is supposedly planning to unveil the new Echo sometime this fall, and so far there’s no reason to believe those plans will change.