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Alexa, More Popcorn, Please! Amazon Launches Voice Controlled Microwave

22 September 2018

Though the race has been neck and neck for quite some time, we finally appear to be seeing a leader emerge.

The AmazonBasics Microwave was unveiled at Amazon's Seattle event on 20 September, alongside other smart devices like a wall clock, an updated roster of smart speakers, and an Alexa device for your vehicle.

Sure, a couple of them leaked here and there like the new Echo Sub, but most of Amazon's announcements came as a complete surprise.

Amazon is taking the fight to rivals by announcing a number of smart devices.

The new Echo Dot has similar functionality to the old Echo Dot. The Echo Plus comes with improved sound for streaming audio. If you're not happy with the bass output from your Echo speaker/s, you can hook it up to the Echo Sub to give it the thump it needs for US$130. You'll find the new Echo Dot on Amazon for sale right now for approximately $50 United States dollars. Unfortunately, Amazon indicates that Echo Auto will not be available now.

However, there is no information about its availability in India. Amazon has already been working with manufacturers to add Alexa into cars.

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Echo Auto is a $50 dashboard accessor that can listen to you on the noisy roads too. It produced a satisfying rumble in Amazon's demo, reaching far past the low frequency range of any other Echo device we've tested.

Amazon's smart home hub has also been given an upgrade, with it becoming bigger and sleeker than before. Chief among these is a larger 10-inch display (up from 7-inches) and picks up real-time Dolby sound processing. Because it's "the most popular appliance that's out there today", according to Amazon, but also "one of the hardest devices to integrate with".

Microsoft has just announced that Skype calling is coming to Alexa devices, and will be rolling out "later this year", so within the next few months.

How, you ask? Well, simply because it can turn an ordinary wall socket into a smart one and let you control ordinary electrical appliances in a different part of the house remotely. This will save you $25 on the listed $49.99 price that was announced for the vehicle assistant.

Lastly, Amazon has launched the Amazon Smart Plug ($24.99) which facilitates the use of voice to switch on items such as lights, fans, coffee makers, and more.

Last, but not the least, is a Smart Microwave that was unveiled at the event last night. It adds Alexa voice control to the speakers you already own via a 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth.

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"Amazon wants to get you used to the idea that this Alexa assistant can be in anything", says CNET's Dan Ackerman.

The Microwave, however, doesn't interact with the user directly and will need an Echo Dot in your kitchen to take commands from.

Still, the mathematicians amongst you will have figured out that this leaves 36 per cent of the market unclaimed, and taking 6 per cent of that is the Apple HomePod.

Also new is the Alexa Guard, a home security product that can detect breaking glass as well as smoke or carbon dioxide and send an alert to your phone.

Alexa is also busting out of the Echo speakers' curved plastic casing-and will now respond directly to commands on a new $60 (around ₹4,300) AmazonBasics-branded microwave oven. The smart speaker is also available in three colours.

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Alexa, More Popcorn, Please! Amazon Launches Voice Controlled Microwave