It’s officially August and we’re getting close to the fall hardware season, and two recent FCC filings from Amazon and Google could hint at a couple of products the companies may — or may not — reveal.
Google’s product is pretty mysterious; the product is described only as a “Wireless Device.”
It appears to be battery-powered — there’s no AC connection — though it can be powered over a 5V USB connection. The filing could indicate that this is some Nest device — some Nest cameras have used 3.65V rechargeable batteries, for example.
Google has already said the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and Pixel Watch will arrive this fall, so whatever this “Wireless Device” is, it could be revealed when the company shares more details about those other products. Google didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
We’re sure about the Amazon filing, which appears to point toward a barely revised version of the company’s premium intelligent Studio Echo speaker. At first glance, there’s not an obvious connection: the new product is described vaguely as a “Digital Media Receiver,” and digging a bit deeper, the filings indicate it has an AC power cable, which lets it plug into an outlet, and a Zigbee radio, which is commonly used for controlling innovative home products. Moreover, the filling itself doesn’t even look to be from Amazon — instead, it was filed by a company vaguely named Flake LLC.
But Amazon often uses fake shell companies for FCC filings to keep its products secret. For example, the photos of Flake’s one other product filed with the agency — another “Digital Media Receiver” — are an exact match of the Echo Studio. And the newer filing says that Echo Studio and this second item are “electrical identical” except for a different MediaTek wireless chip.
It’s not clear exactly why Amazon is swapping the chip. Still, perhaps it’s doing it to address supply chain issues, like some other companies have done: Tesla substituted alternative chips to help keep up production. Panic said it would need to use a different CPU in later shipments of its Playdate gaming handheld last year.
Amazon didn’t instantly reply to a request for comment. The company often carries a September event packed with news devices, but given how minor the change appears, there’s a chance Amazon doesn’t say anything about it.
The screen can be used to depict visual output for Alexa assistant answers. The devices hold motion sensors to wake its screen when someone enters a room automatically; in this state, it can also display prompts concerning news headlines, indicated Alexa commands, and other information. Alexa can also be employed to request the playback of videos on its screen, such as Amazon Video content.
The “Drop-In” feature permits users to, between designated contacts, automatically start a call unannounced.
The Echo Show originally supported YouTube videos; on September 26, 2017. It was disclosed that Google (who fabricates Google Home, a direct competitor to the Amazon Echo line) had intercepted the device’s access to the service, mentioning violations of its terms of service and ongoing negotiations. Amazon later performed around the restriction by using the web version. Google announced that it would jam YouTube from the Echo Show and the Fire TV platform, citing Amazon’s ongoing rules against the sale of products that contend with its video ecosystem and refusal to support its video platform on Google devices. At the second-generation Echo Show launch, Amazon claimed that the issue was now fixed. YouTube searches are now conducted using the Silk or Firefox web browsers on the device.
A security research squad in the Pwn2Own hacking contest is felled into an Amazon Echo Show 5. They did so by hewing into the “patch gap” that meshed older software patched onto other platforms, as the intelligent screen employed an old version of Chromium.
Amazon was glorified for having intentionally limited the portion of touchscreen-oriented usage on the Echo Show so that the gadget would not be complex. However, it was noted that few third-party Alexa Skills took advantage of the screen, and there were limited possibilities for video services that integrated with Alexa.
The Echo Show’s sound quality was superior to the standard Echo but lower than other reliable speakers at the exact price point. In conclusion, it was deemed that “from nearly any other company, adding a screen would have resulted in feature-itis of the imperfect kind. Instead, the Echo Show feels like it does more by holding back. Its resilience is in its simplicity.”
Pocket-lint judged that the white model had an “air of modern,” but the black model was scrutinized as “kind of dated, oddly boxy, and just downright blah to us.” In addition, its sound quality was praised for being able to “fill your entire room and then some,” and the capacity to look up and view YouTube videos was “not the fastest venture,” but “quick enough and has yet to glitch out on us.” Finally, the “Drop-In” feature was praised as potentially helpful in checking on “elderly loved ones.”
The device was also commended for integrating with innovative home products (like home security cameras, which can display their feeds on the screen). However, it was supposed that the “unfinished” Alexa still hindered the experience. Some Skills had not been updated to support the screen entirely, but “if nothing else, it is fun to poke around and explore what else Alexa can do.” In the end, it was argued that it could have featured higher-quality speakers and an entire OS with an app store at its price point. Still, the sound quality justified its higher price than the original Echo.