Gadgets & Technology

Amazon Launches Alexa Cast to Let You Stream Amazon Music to Alexa Devices; New Echo Dot Spotted in Leaked Images


Amazon has launched Alexa Cast, a new way for users to stream on Alexa devices like the Echo line of speakers. But, the compatibility is currently limited to Amazon Music only. Amazon’s rival Apple has AirPlay, while Google has Cast, so Amazon creating its own media-streaming technology was due for some time long. The Alexa Cast works with all Alexa-enabled devices, meaning it supports Echo speakers, third-party Alexa products, and some of Amazon’s Fire devices. Separately, an app has been developed to let sign language users communicate with Alexa. Meanwhile, Amazon’s Echo Dot, a popular smart speaker, also has been due for a new version for a while now. The technology major had launched the second-generation Echo Dot back in 2016, so it won’t be surprising if an updated device arrives this year. A few images of an alleged Amazon Echo Dot has surfaced on the internet, giving us a look at what could be the third-generation model of the device. As per latest reports, Amazon is introducing some key design changes and may launch the new model in the next couple of months.

Amazon has introduced a new Alexa Cast feature that will let you control the Music that you play in your Alexa-powered devices. The feature currently works only with the Amazon Music app. However, it is expected to compete with Google Cast by allowing users to control music, movies, podcasts, and more playback from various apps. The Alexa Cast feature minimises the hassle of playing and controlling Amazon Music on an Echo-series smart speaker from an Android or iOS handsets. After an update, the Amazon Music app on iOS and Android will show an icon for Alexa Cast on the Now Playing screen. Tapping on the icon will take the users to a screen where they can select the Amazon device on which they want the music to be played. The updated app is available on Google Play.

In the meantime, someone has developed an app that lets users speak to an Amazon Echo using sign language. As per a report in The Verge, a software developer Abhishek Singh has created a mod that enables Amazon Alexa to understand simple sign language commands. As per a demonstration, the Amazon Echo is connected to a laptop with a webcam that then decodes the gestures in text and speech. Interestingly, since this mod is based on machine learning, Singh had to teach his programme to understand visual signals by feeding it training data by creating his own set of signals. Notably, it is only a proof-of-concept software as of now, but it may be widely available soon.

Meanwhile, as per leaked images, reported by AFTVnews and first published by French sites FrAndroid and Numberama, the unreleased Amazon Echo Dot looks pretty similar to the Google Home Mini. The reports claim that the third-gen Echo Dot has been codenamed Donut, which is in line with the Pancake and Biscuit codenames used in the first two Echo Dot smart speakers. The report claims that the upcoming devices are being tested by Amazon employees. Notably, the images are very blurry and there is no confirmation on whether they are legitimate. So, the reports need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

If the images turn out to be true, the third-generation Echo Dot will not have the glossy black plastic and flat top seen in the current model. The images show a more rounded, softer appearance and there is fabric running around the side. Notably, the round LED and the same four physical buttons are still present. AFTVnews believes that the new Dot would be slightly bigger than the second-generation Echo Dot, probably because Amazon wants to improve audio quality.

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