Amazon’s latest hardware event delivered us a bevvy of new Echo speakers with strange spherical designs, upgraded Fire TV devices, and a new Echo Show smart display that can follow you around the room.
The headline announcement was the launch of a new games streaming service. Called Amazon Luna, the service is a new competitor for the likes of Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now – and it’s pretty exciting, to say the least.
However, there were plenty of smaller announcements that were just as exciting, including security drones that can roam around your home and Alexa Skills that will suit your kids.
Just in case you missed some of these hidden gems, we’ve rounded up five thrilling announcements from the Amazon 2020 event that may have gone under the radar (see what we did there?)
Alexa is getting kid-friendly
You may have been dazzled (understandably) by the new designs of Amazon’s latest Echo speakers, but its voice assistant Alexa has been given some nifty upgrades of its own, too.
Alexa now has the ability to recognize when it’s interacting with children, and can automatically shift to a kid’s profile when it detects a child’s voice – and that ability works with any Echo speaker, not just the All-new Echo Dot Kids Edition speakers that are heading to the US.
Alexa’s custom kids experience means that your children can ask Alexa questions, set animal-themed sound alarms, get help with homework, and call pre-approved friends and family.
Alexa can also now help with homeschooling – something more of us are having to attempt due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A new feature called Reading Sidekick means Alexa can take turns reading with your child, as well as “offering support when they struggle”, according to the tech giant.
The new Echo Show can guard your home
Amazon announced its latest smart display, the all-new Echo Show 10 at its hardware event – and it can keep an eye on your home while you’re away.
With a 13MP camera built-in, the new Echo Show 10 has a display that can move independently – and as well as following you as you move around your room so you’re not glued to one spot while taking video calls, it can also pan around your room when you’re not home to detect intruders.
That allows the Show to double up as a security camera, letting you view a live feed of your home from another Echo Show or the Alexa app on your phone. Amazon says you can also "remotely rotate the screen to take a look around the room".
When you put Alexa Guard in Away Mode, you can also get smart alerts if the camera detects somebody in its vicinity while you’re away – and Amazon says that for "added peace of mind, [the] Echo Show will periodically pan around the room to see if anyone is in its field of view".
Worried about being spied on? The All-new Echo Show 10 comes with a camera shutter, and you can turn motion off at any time by sliding that shutter closed, adjusting settings on-device or in the Alexa app, or just by saying, “Alexa, turn off motion.”
Ring now has a drone that flies around your house
No, this isn’t a late April Fools joke – Amazon’s home security brand Ring, has a new drone-based camera that can actually fly around your home, keeping a watchful eye on proceedings while you’re away.
The Always Home Cam comes with a 1080p camera, and allows you to see multiple viewpoints of your home as it flies on a preset route.
Once you’ve created a route for the Always Home Cam to follow, it can fly on demand or be set to fly when a linked Ring Alarm system detects a disturbance. It can only record when it’s in flight, as the charging dock blocks the camera’s view – and it will make a noise while flying, so you know if you’re being filmed (phew).
Amazon Luna is getting day one Ubisoft releases
The games streaming world just got yet another new competitor, this time from Amazon, called Amazon Luna – and big titles like Assassin's Creed: Valhalla will be available the day they are launched (November 10, 2020, in this case).
Amazon Luna is set to take on established players in the streaming space like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now, other services that also let you play games straight from cloud servers without the need to download them first.
Fire TV is getting a much-needed new UI
Amazon announced a new generation of the Fire TV Stick, as well as a cheaper Lite version of the streaming dongle – but we’re more interesting in the long-awaited upgrades coming to the Fire TV user interface.
Now, there are profiles for every member of your family, which can be customized to each viewer, as well as a new navigation bar, which includes the favored apps of each profile, making it far easier to get around the interface.
Another new feature that Amazon showed off was Picture in Picture mode, which allows you to watch a separate video in the corner of your main content. This means you could view a delivery coming through your Ring doorbell without interrupting your TV show, giving you the peace of mind that a parcel arrived without having to go answer the door.
Being able to watch TV interrupted was a bit of a theme with the upgraded UI; now, when you ask Alexa a question, answers will now be displayed in small visual cards, which won't take over the whole screen. Finally, there's a new Alexa hub within the Fire TV interface, making it easier to understand, control and personalize your virtual assistant.