Greg Mombert/Digital Trends
So far, Amazon has released three devices powered by its Alexa service — the Echo, Tap, and Echo Dot. All of these offer the same basic functionality in different form factors, basically functioning as speakers that can also serve as the hub of the user’s smart home. This similarity across devices looks like it won’t last forever, though, as the firm’s next Alexa-powered product could feature a touchscreen, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The device’s touchscreen will reportedly measure seven inches and would be powered by a modified version of FireOS, the operating system powering Amazon’s Fire tablets and Fire TV devices. The product would be the largest yet of any of Amazon’s Alexa-powered offerings, and would tilt upward to be easily seen when placed on a kitchen counter.
Keeping with this kitchen theme, Amazon is said to be working on a feature that would allow users to pin photos to the device’s display, similar to pinning photos on a refrigerator with magnets. Bloomberg’s sources say that the form factor and touchscreen will make it easier to use the device to access information like news, weather forecasts, and calendar appointments.
Despite the touchscreen, the new device would still have a strong focus on audio, as the Alexa Voice Service is the key to all of Amazon’s smart home products. The product is also rumored to feature high-quality speakers, which would make it a better choice for listening to music than any of the company’s current offerings.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of such an offering coming from Amazon. Earlier this year, rumors surfaced that the company was working on a product code-named “Knight,” which was said to have a touchscreen. Whether this is that product getting closer to market or a wholly different product isn’t clear.
Amazon’s newest product could ship as soon as early as 2017, but so far there has been no word on pricing, other than that it will be more expensive than the company’s $180 Echo.