Why 2018 Will Be the Year of the Smart Speaker

The Dawn of Smartspeakers: Amazon Echo and Google Home Rise above the Horizon

To find a skill and enable, users need to go to the skills section in the Alexa app where they can browse for skills and then click enable.

When Amazon wanted to get its Echo product to a wider audience it chose to launch the Echo Dot; it wasn't a fully featured as the Echo but it did the job.

Amazon's Echo Spot is to the Show what the Dot was to the original Echo. Only 16 percent say that they use their speakers less often than when they first got it while 51 percent they use them more often - the remaining 33 percent reported more or less the same amount of usage since their first month of ownership.

But with 138 million smart speakers expected to be in USA homes within the next few years, the competition to woo consumers away from the Amazon Echo is just ramping up. It uses a new four-mic array to hear users, which is a condensed version of the seven or eight-mic arrays used in other Echo devices.

Alongside these outreach programs, Alexa team runs a monthly developer incentive program where developers who publish a new skill receive perks including an Echo Dot and AWS credits. Alexa donates all of her powers to the smaller device, while the screen will display weather, calendar alerts, flash video briefings, graphical representation of media playback, music lyrics, to-do lists and will even show a live feed from security cameras or baby monitors.

Both devices are designed for video calls and both feature the instant "drop in" feature that lets you make quick video calls without actually making the call.

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A report in TechCrunch reveals that Amazon is actively looking for ways to give the omnipotent one a dog-in-the-fight on matters such as beers, tv shows, movies and so on.

Likewise, it also has the ability to conduct video calls via the camera - you can call other Amazon Echo devices. It doesn't conjure up a massive soundstage, but there's a decent stab at audio placement. An advanced microphone can add as little as US$8 to the cost of a product, according to chipset maker MediaTek.

But what is the Echo Spot?

Amazon Echo Spot vs Echo Show Price: Which speaker offers the best value?

Smart speakers are also proving to be instrumental in driving the adoption of smart-home technology as well, with 31% of respondents using smart speakers to control a smart-home device in the preceding week, and 38% of owners planning on buying even more smart speakers in order to control smart-home gadgets.

Also new in 2018, the Fibaro system is compatible with devices from AV brands including Bose, Sonos, Yamaha, Russound, iEast, Bang&Oulfsen, Musaic, Cocktail Audio, Pioneer, Onkyo, Denon and Nuvo. The rounded shape of the Spot looks more like a travel alarm clock than a digital assistant - and that's what Amazon seems to be marketing this thing as.

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