Two weeks with Echo — Hearing Things

It’s now our second week with the Amazon Echo and so far things have been interesting. Alexa, Amazon’s attempt at giving the echo a personal touch and honestly better than saying Amazon each time, has been astounding.

First the downsides, the Echo iOS app is clunky (but well meaning) and the music selection is atrocious, Amazon really needs to sort out a direct Spotify partnership (I’ve never liked Pandora for anything but ‘radio’). Honestly though, that’s about where my annoyances end.

The music quality is great, not audio perfection but definitely better than TV/Laptop speakers that it’s now fondly replaced. Alexa is simply the best listener of all the virtual PA’s. Siri barely understands my Australian accent, Google struggles and is the least personable and until Windows 10 nobody can spend enough time with Cortana to really compare. Alexa has no trouble with music, news or weather requests or even deciphering weirdly named esoteric bands from halfway across the apartment. The voice synthesization is absolutely top notch, sometimes I can almost forget I’m listening to a computer and not a real person.

I still haven’t grown weary of waking in the morning and asking for a weather and news report. The top news items work amazingly and seem to always have relevant and understandable content. Playing music is now second nature and has completely overwhelmed the previous silence. It’s just too easy to ask Alexa to put on some jazz and stop it as soon as life interrupts. If you really want to find some non-mainstream bands, the bluetooth streaming from Spotify works incredibly well.

I find the alarms the most useful, it’s much quicker to ask Alexa to set a 10 minute reminder than to struggle with the oven timer. We’re yet to really use the grocery list or the todo’s but I can see the benefit.

I can’t wait to explore further the recently announce IFTTT partnership and developer access, I can definitely see a future where Alexa is an integral centre of the home and has easily just worked as a voice based system where I find Siri and others to be a burden or waste of time vs direct device integration.

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