A new Amazon Echo with a touchscreeen and camera could be announced as soon as Tuesday, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The device, a possible image of which was discovered last week by AFTVNews, would have a 7-inch touchscreen display, and could arrive in consumers' hands as early as June.
The price of the new touchscreen Echo is rumored to be upward of $200; it would be the second Alexa-enabled device launched by Amazon in as many months. Earlier, Amazon introduced the invitation-only $200 Echo Look, essentially an Echo with a camera that dispenses fashion advice, and the original Echo has recently gone on sale for $149. However, this would jibe with a Cnet report in late April that Amazon could launch an Echo with a screen within a month.
All other smart home assistants, such as the Google Home, as well as Amazon's other Echo products, have been focused primarily on voice interaction, so the introduction of a touchscreen signals a potential shift in strategy. The rumored device's size and features, which includes a fairly large speaker beneath its touchscreen, would indicate that the device is intended for use on a nightstand, or some place similar.
On Monday, Microsoft announced its own home voice assistant, the Invoke speaker powered by Cortana. Arriving this fall, Microsoft's device, which uses Harmon Kardon speakers, will also enable users to make and receive calls via Skype. However, as a latecomer to the market, Microsoft will have to contend with the large lead of Amazon, Google, and, to a lesser extent, Apple's HomeKit.
Speaking of Apple, it's rumored to be working on a smart speaker of its own, with Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller telling NDTV over the weekend that voice-powered speakers should come with screens. It sounds like we'll find out tomorrow if Amazon agrees.