Google Mini captures top spot in connected speaker market

Echo and other devices

The next-generation Echo Dot is 70 percent louder than its predecessor, with a new mic array, and a larger driver (1.6 inches compared to 1.1 inches) for the same $49.99 price.

Naturally our interest is particularly piqued by the new audio products which we suppose marks Amazon's grand entrance into "hi-fi". Meanwhile, as voice control and conversational computing takes hold, Alexa is establishing a presence in offices, cars and other spaces. In terms of total volume, the numbers look less impressive at 11.7 million units shipped during Q2 2018, but the variety has exponentially grown globally in the last 12 months with more and more companies trying capitalise on the market growth.

Alongside the updated versions, Amazon revealed three new pieces of hardware: Amazon Echo Sub, Echo Input and Echo Smart Plug.

Amazon has also boosted Alexa's short-term memory so that follow-up questions no longer require a wake word.

With the Echo Sub, you can also use two of the same Echo devices to create a left/right stereo pair, something which you couldn't do before, although you could group them. It's got improved sound, too, along with Bluetooth and 3.5mm connectivity so that you can connect another speaker to it.

That's right, Amazon is turning your house into its own echo chamber. Background road noise, the sound of the radio, and other people talking can get in the way of Alexa understanding, hence the need to squeeze eight microphones inside.

When you want to combine Alexa's intelligence with serious sound equipment, now you can with Echo Link ($200). Plus, with the equaliser feature you can adjust the bass, mid-range, and treble using the Alexa app. The product page also mentions Google's partnership with over 400 brands to offer compatibility with more than 5000 smart devices like Nest Cam and more, noted report.

For offline home control, this will let you control pieces of your smart home via Alexa, even if there is no established internet connection.

For example, when the living room reaches 26 degrees, Alexa can turn on a fan connected to a smart plug. All of the devices will be powered by Alexa, meaning in-built voice assistant.

And it's expanded its skillset in relation to streaming services, so you can ask Alexa to follow certain artists, say, and when they have a new album it will notify you.

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