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Amazon introduces new Alexa products, including Echo and Fire updates



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Amazon unleashed a slew of new products Thursday, including an indoor security drone, car security products, a re-designed Echo speaker with a spherical look and a gaming service.

The most radical of the products is an “indoor only” $249 security drone, Ring Always Home Cam, which Amazon says will automatically fly to predetermined areas of the home, “giving you multiple viewpoints with just one camera.that flies around the home.” It will only record when in flight, says Amazon, which didn’t offer a release date.

The “all-new” Echo is in a different, ball shape, touts improved audio and will sell for $99.

The regular Dot, which is also spherical, is priced at $49.99, and the Dot edition with a clock is $59.99.

Amazon also showed off a re-think of the Echo Show, the Echo unit with a video display. The new Echo Show 10, with a ten-inch screen, is targeted to video calling, which has taken on new urgency in the COVID era.

What’s unique about this Echo is that it has a rotating base and a screen that “moves with you,” as the camera also digitally pans and zooms as people move around the room. “Now you can catch up with your family while making dinner—you aren’t stuck in front of your computer, or propping your phone up to squeeze into view,” notes Amazon.

Rival products from Facebook and Google have included a camera that digitally pans and zooms, but the rotating base is new.

Previous editions of the Echo Show didn’t support the No. 1 video meeting app, but Amazon is bringing Zoom to Echo later this “fall,” the company says.

The Echo speakers are the crown jewel in Amazon’s self-made products, with a 53% market share of the smart speaker market, compared to 31% for Google Nest Home, according to Voicebot.ai, which tracks voice computing.

Some 87.7 million people currently own a smart speaker in the United States, per Voicebot.

Car Security

Amazon also announced it’s going to bring its Ring security cameras to your car. It said it was the most requested feature from Ring fans.

The $59.99 Ring Car Alarm monitors for impacts, break-ins, tows, and more and sends alerts. The $199.99 Ring Car Cam goes further with a security camera for the car that will also send alerts, via the Ring app, if it senses attempted break-ins. With the built-in camera, drivers can get a live view and check-in on the vehicle and surrounding areas.

A Car Cam feature touted at Amazon’s press event is “Traffic Stop.” If you get pulled over by police, a driver can say, “Alexa, I’m being pulled over,” and the camera will automatically start recording.

Amazon has opened up its coding to other car manufacturers for what it calls Ring Car Connect, a $199.99 device that allows drivers to watch recorded vehicle video footage, and monitor whether the car is locked or unlocked.

Tesla models 3, X, S and Y are the first compatible vehicles for Ring Car Connect.

Fire TV

The other best seller in the Amazon Devices category was the Fire TV Stick with Alexa, which also sold for around $25, and brings an easy way for TV consumers to add streaming to their TV sets.

Fire TV competes with Roku, which has similarly priced streaming devices. Both Fire TV and Roku claim 40 million viewers, making both the dominant players in streaming, which also includes Apple and its Apple TV set-top box, and Google, with its Chromecast dongle.

Last year’s highlights from the press event included a wall clock, Echo Buds, a high-fidelity version of Echo, called Studio and Alexa glasses, which was invite only and never officially went on sale.

Another big initiative announced last year was Amazon Sidewalk, which extends the range of Alexa devices into areas not normally covered by Wi-Fi, is expected to get a lot of attention at the event. Amazon this week updated Sidewalk by mentioning it will actually launch this year.

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“With Sidewalk, you can continue to receive motion alerts from your security cameras even when your Wi-Fi goes down,” Amazon noted. “Or if your Wi-Fi does not reach your smart lights at the edge of your driveway, Sidewalk will help them stay connected.”

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter

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