Three months after its initial availability in India, Amazon has announced that its Echo Dot, Echo, and Echo Plus devices will be widely available for purchase by all customers in the country via multi-brand retail outlets as well as Amazon.in. Users will no longer require an invite to purchase these speakers. The Echo smart speakers powered by Amazon Alexa virtual assistant were launched in India for invitees last November.
Parag Gupta, Head of Product Management and Marketing at Amazon Devices, told indianexpress.com that in the three months that Alexa has been live in India — its fourth geography after the US, UK and Germany — it has added a lot of context particular to India and also improved its natural language skills. “It now understands a richer set of regional dialtects and has a better selection of music,” he added.
Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager – India for Alexa Experience and Devices, said many new features will go live from February 15 onward. One such feature is the Alexa-to-Alexa calling and messaging feature between two users who have supported supported Echo devices or the free Alexa app on their Android or iOS mobile phones. Kumar said this can also be used to speak to a specific device, almost like an intercom.
Also, to enhance the entertainment experience, Amazon has introduced the multi-room music feature that allows you to play and control music across devices at the same time with a simple ‘play everywhere’ command. Plus, there is a new option to set up a routine, or a series of actions, with just one command. For instance, you can say ‘I am up’ and Alexa will play you a good morning message, the weather and news as you have set it up on the app.
In a release, Jayshree Gururaj, Director – Amazon Devices, said being on the cloud, Alexa is always getting smarter. “The Alexa experience in India continues to evolve with new features, even better speech recognition, new localised skills, expanded music selection, and more.”
Over 1,000 new skills, mostly with a clear India flavour, have been added to the Alexa Skills Store in India since it went live on October 31, 2017. There are over 12,000 skills live today. While the prices of Echo Dot (Rs 4,499), Echo (Rs 9,999) and Echo Plus (Rs 14,999) have not changed, customers of the latter will get a Philips Hue bulb free.