Amazon is reportedly developing the next generation of its Echo smart speaker, and this version will be trimmer, smaller and all around better than the current Amazon Echo. What's more, it could give Apple HomePod a run for its money.
A source who saw a working model of this so-called Amazon Echo 2 spilled the details to Engadget, and the smart speaker sounds to be a significant upgrade over the two-year-old Echo currently on the market.
In addition to more tweeters to produce better sound – a knock against the Amazon Echo now is that it's audio quality is sub-par – this new model will apparently shave down the Echo's (admittedly already slender) design.
This last detail may be an inspiration taken from the Apple HomePod, which has a soft fabric finish. The new Echo's design also sounds similar to the squat look of Apple's first smart speaker, unveiled last month.
Price, set, match?
The mics of the Amazon Echo 2 are also reportedly undergoing a redesign, which presumably means more accurate readings of voice commands.
Though Engadget's source said some design features could change, this sounds to be a fairly close representation of what Amazon has planned for final release.
The new Amazon Echo release date is said to be in the fall, which would give it a jumpstart on the Apple HomePod, which isn't set to release until December.
It's unlikely the Amazon Echo 2 will begin to touch Apple HomePod's price of $349, considering the current Amazon Echo price is only $179.99 / £149.99. Google Home, another sleek and small smart speaker, costs $129 / £129, though it's currently on sale for $99.
But it seems that Apple's target competitor might not be the Echo at all: Apple HomePod is likely to compete more closely with Sonos speakers at its price point and with its features. But the comparison to other smart speakers for the home is unavoidable, and one that could prove difficult for Apple to overcome.
It's not impossible, mind you, but customers may be left with a choice between better sound and lower prices, and as smart speakers get better on all fronts, the HomePod could find itself with nowhere to go.
Amazon just wrapped up its big Prime Day sale where it took 50% off the Amazon Echo price. Could that have been a way to clear out inventory before an Amazon Echo 2 release in the fall? We can't say for sure, but let's just say the smart speaker stars are starting to align.