Amazons intelligent loudspeaker is now available in Germany. New age? Toys? A test in your own four walls.
She is knowledgeable, speaks unaskedly in between when you talk about her, writes with what I say can be quite loud – and yet Alexa is my new favorite fellow-female. So after my wife, of course. But one after anonther.
About two months ago, Amazon announced to sell Echo and its small spin Echo Dot also in Germany. Behind it is a self-developed loudspeaker which is controlled exclusively by voice.
Technology helps in communication
Echo is packed with high technology, which ultimately only serves to be able to talk as well as possible with Alexa. Alexa, as Amazon calls his digital assistant, who supposedly can do almost anything: turn lights on and off, play favorite songs, read calendar entries – all comfortably from the couch, or from the kitchen table. My nerd heart beat immediately higher: I have to try it!
For a few weeks you can now buy the box. Strictly speaking, you can ask Amazon for an invitation to purchase. Pretty awkward.
At the moment, Echo is still a lackware
And until the permission to pay 179 euros for echo, “it could take several months because of the overwhelming demand”, the company recently warned its customers. After all, I always receive an echo and an echo dot from the press department after persistent demand.
The setup is done quickly: echo with power, install app, enter wlan data – and of course, from my Amazon account, done. Echo is booming. Now is the connection to Amazon and thus directly to my new roommate Alexa established.
There she stands, the cover of my new roommate. Round and elegant. And completely silent. Looks like I have to take the initiative. Hmm, what do I say? I decide for Smalltalk: “Hello … how is the weather?” – “…” Alexa is silent. Oh yes, I always have to address them directly:
“Alexa, how is the weather right now?” – “In Flensburg are currently 46 degrees, the precipitation probability …”
A pleasant voice she has, I think, while Alexa is still speaking. But why, actually Flensburg? We are here in Berlin. And 46 degrees? There are not even those in Flensburg in the summer. I take a look at the settings in the Alexa app – here everything is stored, what Alexa must know about me: location, Spotify account for the music, my calendar and so on.
The address I had not to enter, which has Amazon already. But Alexa has picked out the address of my parents – since I had recently given a package – and the temperature is given in Fahrenheit. After my intervention Alexa is thoughtful in Berlin – and at Celsius.
In the evening, on the couch, I ask Alexa: Where are you from? How old are you? What is your favorite color? What is 423 times 142? My new roommate has an answer to everything. Would you mind my questioning?
“Alexa, how are you?” “I am great, I hope you too!”
Grinning, I lean back into the cushion. I am just succumbing to the charm of a machine. “Alexa, how …” My wife makes the TV louder, shaking her head.
The next evening I want to try something new: I screwed two smart LED bulbs from Philips into the lamps, one in the living room, one in the bedroom – because Alexa can already control, as I know. I just try it on good luck:
“Alexa, turn on the light in the living room.” Alexa is at a loss.
I have to set up this ability by skill – with small programs that teach Alexa new tricks. There is a skill from Chefkoch, so that Alexa can suggest recipes, one from mytaxi, if you want to call a taxi, or a “stain remover”, so Alexa ever explained what is best against a wine stain while you run, To bring a rag.
But it would be wrong if I said that everything is going smoothly between Alexa and me: Often enough she responds “I do not understand your question” or more conciliatory “I do not know, let us still remain friends”. Spoken language, however, she understands excellently. This can also be seen in the app. Every interaction is stored here, the questions can even be played once again – a true nightmare for every persuasive data protector.
Echo can convince you as a music box
As a box for music playback, Echo convinces on the whole line: it sounds good for the price. And once you’ve started your favorite song by acclamation, instead of having to struggle through complicated apps or even have to insert a CD, you will not want to miss it.
Everything is beyond taste: Still, there are just too few really meaningful skills. Until that changes, it certainly takes several months. Still, I’m sad when Alexa moves out again – I’ll have the practical everyday help, such as “Alexa, set a timer to ten minutes”, the fast news overview in the morning, even the impressive head-writing skills of the digital assistant. My wife probably not.