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Amazon Echo and Ring event live blog: Follow our coverage now – CNET


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Amazon is holding its annual product launch event online.


Robert Rodriguez/CNET

It’s been a busy last couple of months in tech product land. Today, Amazon‘s holding its big product event for the year, during which we usually get upgrades to popular devices like the Echo Dot, which normally starts at $50 but is regularly on sale for as little as $19. There’s also Amazon’s Ring home security subsidiary. So far, we’ve seen the Nest competitor, Amazon’s Smart Thermostat, Echo Show 15 and Disney meets Alexa with “Hey Disney.” Amazon Glow for kids combines video calling with activities.

Read more: All the rumors of the products planned for Amazon’s big reveal

But Amazon is also known for throwing wacky ideas at the wall, like adding Alexa smarts to a microwave or an analog clock. Amazon even created a mood ring, of sorts, that you can talk to. And don’t forget the floating guard drone announced from its Ring division. 

Amazon’s announcements come after we’ve already had a torrent of releases from the industry’s biggest players. Samsung‘s showed off its folding phones like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3Apple has announced its iPhone 13 and new iPad Mini, and Microsoft introduced its second-generation Surface Duo phone and new Surface Studio laptop. Now, it’s Amazon’s turn.

Read more: Ring’s police problem never went away. Here’s what you still need to know

Follow our live coverage below.

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Amazon

Amazon Glow — a video chat device for kids

9:32 a.m. PT

Amazon’s idea for how to change video calls for kids is to make them more interactive. A new device, called Amazon Glow, projects computer images onto a table, where kids can interact with it. There’s an 8-inch LCD display so the kids can see their loved one as well.

So, the way it works is that there will be an app the adult on the other end of the call can use to interact with books, draw, play puzzles and more. On the kid’s side, the Amazon Glow projects what the adult sees on their tablet onto the surface in front of it. Courtney Holoszyc, who’s part of Amazon’s family tech efforts, said it’s designed to be interactive and to keep the kid’s attention.

She also noted that physical and digital products can interact with one another. And Amazon’s partnered with Disney, Mattel, Sesame Street and Nickelodeon for interactive books, puzzles and all sorts of other items.

To protect kids, Amazon said the $249 device will have a privacy shutter, and kids can only call people pre-approved by their parents.


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Amazon

Disney characters on Alexa

9:25 a.m. PT

In a new partnership with Disney, you can use an Alexa device to interact with Disney, Pixar and Star Wars characters. Called “Hey Disney,” the feature gives you jokes, trivia, story readings, as well as “surprises” users will have to discover on their own. You can use it in Disney park hotels as well as on your own Alexa device with a purchase.

This will “integrate the best of Disney” with Alexa, said Dave Limp SVP Services and Devices, who called it, “one of the most imaginative uses of ambient technology I’ve seen.”


More for Amazon Kids Plus

9:21 a.m. PT

Amazon’s upgrading its subscription service for kids, that goes along with its Echo Show, Fire TV, Fire tablets and iOS or Android apps. Amazon said the service, which starts at $3 per month, will have new games and exclusive content including from the hit YouTube channel Blippi.

Amazon’s new Echo Show 15 wall-mounted smart display is the biggest yet


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Echo Show 15


Amazon

Personalization in Echo Show

9:18 a.m. PT

Amazon is adding personalization features using its AZ2 Neural Edge processor. The juiced up chip can process much faster, which lets it run the personalization features on the device. As a result, features that use data about you won’t send that information to Amazon’s cloud.

One of these features uses your face. Alexa can recognize you when you’re in the Echo Show camera’s field of view. That means you can see your recently played music or “sticky notes” left behind for you by other members of your household. You can also personalize preferences like dietary restrictions or your favorite sports fans.

“Our goal is for you to be able to personalize your experiences,” said Miriam Daniel, EVP of Echo and Alexa.

New Amazon Smart Thermostat takes on Nest with low $60 price


Echo Show 15

9:13 a.m. PT

Amazon wants to change the way we think of tablets, creating a wall-mounted device designed to give us information and control over our smart homes. Miriam Daniel, EVP Echo and Alexa, said it comes with a new widget-based interface that’s meant to offer people access to information like the weather, shopping lists, sticky notes, and a shared family calendar.

You can also see which smart devices are on or off through the Echo Show, and it’ll show you feeds from the Ring video doorbell overlaid on what you’re seeing.

The Echo Show 15 can be mounted in portrait or landscape mode, Daniel added. 

Oh, and of course you can watch TV on it. Because why not?


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Amazon

Energy promise

9:10 a.m. PT

Amazon says it’s working hard to lower its carbon footprint and limit energy use by it’s own products. But it also wants to help users lower their own energy use and they’re focusing on the HVAC system as a big energy hog in many people’s homes. Amazon is introducing a certified smart energy thermostat powered by Alexa. It’ll work with most existing HVAC systems and is made in partnership with Honeywell. 


Privacy promise

9:08 a.m. PT

While Amazon’s been criticized for its handling of people’s data, particularly its relationships with police departments. As CNET’s reported before, Amazon hasn’t been fully upfront about the way it handles people’s information caught on Ring. Limp said the company’s goal is to make privacy the center of what it does.


Making lives ‘better’ with ‘Ambient Intelligence’

9:06 a.m. PT

Amazon begins its event with David Limp, the company’s SVP for Devices and Services. He starts by talking about how despite how hard the last 18 months have been, Amazon’s been focused on “inventing on behalf of customers.”

“Our vision for how we can craft technology to make customers’ lives even better,” he says. “Our goal has been to not build gadgets but instead devices that are deeply integrated with services. When we’re at our best, those services the content, the interactions are front and center, and the device itself fades into the background.”

He notes that “ambient intelligence” is a key part of this, an AI that’s there when you need it but “recedes into the background,” when you don’t. 

“What you’re going to see are examples of our next big leaps forward: science fiction becoming reality,” he adds.


Let the tech hype begin

9:00 a.m. PT

Tech events have a certain template they tend to follow, even during the pandemic. One of them is that they use upbeat and inspiring music to get you in the mood before they begin. Amazon is no different. Just before everything began, we heard The Head and the Heart’s All We Ever Knew, and now Coldplay and BTS are belting out My Universe — as in what Amazon wants Alexa to control. My universe.


Fire TV stuff we already know

8:30 a.m. PT

Amazon’s already announced several changes for its Fire TV division, including its Fire TV Omni and Fire TV 4-Series, the first Amazon-branded TVs, starting at $370. The new devices, announced a few weeks ago, are on preorder now, and are due to arrive in October. And before you ask, yes you can bark “Alexa!” orders at it hands-free.

The TVs are relatively basic, offering 4K resolution, HDR and Dolby Vision support, and they come in 65-inch and 75-inch models. Unlike the TCL 5-Series Roku TV or the Vizio M7Q series, which have similar initial pricing, the Fire TV Omni lacks full-array local dimmingquantum dot color and the latest gaming features, so our TV expert David Katzmaier said he doesn’t expect image quality “to be in the same league” as similar devices from TCL and Vizio.

Amazon also offers its software for other companies to power their TVs, such as Toshiba’s Fire TV Edition.

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The Fire TV Omni


Amazon


Ringing in the holidays

8 a.m. PT

Today’s event will also likely include news from Ring, Amazon’s smart home security line. Amazon bought Ring three years ago, and more substantive integrations with Alexa and other Amazon devices and services might finally be coming down the pike.

There’s also some the Always Home Cam — the flying drone camera Amazon teased but didn’t release last year. Rumors suggest we could get an update on that today.

It’s important to remember that Ring has been contending with all sorts of privacy controversies over the past year, especially with regard to relationships with police. Amazon’s addressed some of them with increased privacy and security options, but more still needs to be done.


Making Alexa matter

7:46 a.m. PT

We already know some of the changes coming to Alexa, thanks to announcements made at the Alexa Live developers’ conference in July. Among the changes were the Amazon Custom Assistant Program that allows third parties to create their own assistants using Alexa’s blueprint. Verizon already jumped at the chance, announcing the Verizon Smart Display and the option to say, “Hi, Verizon.” (A lost opportunity for anyone hoping for “Verizon, can you hear me now?”) 

What new Alexa features will be announced this Tuesday is tough to call, but there are almost certainly some new things up Alexa’s virtual sleeve. 

The company also discussed Matter. Formerly known as Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP), Matter will be a single, IP-based, open-source standard that works over Wi-Fi and supports all major control platforms. It… ahem… matters because it’s supposed to act as a universal language that smart home devices from makers like Google, Apple and Amazon could use to connect with and understand each other. 

At Alexa Live, Amazon announced plans to integrate Matter into nearly all Echo devices (excluding first-gen speakers) via an over-the-air update. Amazon had slated the software development kit for release late this year, but it has since been pushed to 2022


Day 1 launches

7:30 a.m. PT

Amazon often announces a handful of “Day 1” products — experimental devices to measure market interest. They’ve ranged from microwaves and clocks to wearable rings and glasses — and they don’t always survive long. It’s tough to guess what Amazon will try out next, but our guess is as good as yours. How about an Alexa-enabled garbage can?

Speaking of Alexa, the assistant is also likely to see some updates. Last year the Echo Show got Netflix and support for group calling. A focus on features that support remote work, like teleconferencing and productivity management, would be timely and on brand.


Good morning

7 a.m. PT

And it begins. Amazon’s 2021 fall Echo event is happening today, Sept. 28, at 9 a.m. PT. Amazon won’t be livestreaming its invite-only presentation to the general public, but the company has promised attendees “news about our latest Amazon devices, features and services”, according to invitations that went out Sept. 20.

We’re anticipating news across all of Amazon’s device and services categories. In years past, Amazon has unleashed literally dozens of new devices at its events, big and small. From the Echo Auto to the rotating Echo Show 10 to that odd Echo Wall Clock. Of course, new Echo Dots and Echo speakers are often the centerpiece.



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When

Amazon’s event will start Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 9 a.m. PT, noon ET, 5 p.m. BST, and Sept. 29 at 2 a.m. AEST. (Sorry, Australia.)

Where

Amazon’s event will be invite-only for the press, but we’ll be covering everything here on CNET, with a live blog, as well as news stories, analysis and reviews you can get only from us.



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