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Amazon Echo, the IoT based voice assistant from the eCommerce giant is now available for pre-order in the US for $180. The big deal ? It’s available without an invite. Earlier, it was only available for purchase with an invite.

Although it is available for pre-order, the company will start shipping it from July 16. The connected device was announced in November 2014. Echo packs a voice assistant named Alexa in a 360-degree speaker which could be activated by voice commands to control other devices in the house.

It has its own mobile app and can perform basic tasks like music playback, news reading, providing local weather information, traffic update, etc. You can get listed music from third-party audio services such as Pandora, Audible, and Amazon Prime Music. It also has integration of Google Calendar for your agenda.

In order to gain maximum from the Echo, you will need third-party smart devices like smart bulbs, smart switch boards, etc. so that you can control appliances through it. Some of the supported third party devices include Belkin WeMo Switches, Philips Hue Lights, Bloom, etc.

Amazon is trying to enhance Echo’s capabilities by introducing new features and capabilities. Recently, it added support for Philips Hue products and IFTTT Recipes. The company has also released a private beta of free SDK for Alexa voice assistant. The company has also promised that it will roll out “new skills and capabilities” later this year.

Echo also has an added ability to make purchase on via voice command. However, the feature is only available for Amazon Prime Shipping.


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