After reading the positive reviews I got past the gimmick factor and jumped aboard the Amazon Echo train and got it set up yesterday. After going through the obvious examples (what’s the weather, tell me a joke, add x to my shopping list, play song y) and playing around with it I’m past the gimmick stage. The always on listening is really a different way to interact with our devices. Conceptually it’s no different than using Siri or Google Now but in practice it’s a world of difference. I don’t always have my phone with me and for some things it just feels more natural to start speaking and see an immediate effect. Whether that’s playing some specific songs or playlists, changing the volume, or adding items to a shopping list it feels more natural than having to go through a phone. One of my favorite use cases so far has been using the Echo to keep track of my shopping list. In the past I’d be in the kitchen and realize we needed something and would forget as soon as I switch tasks. With the Echo I can immediately call out what to add and have the list readily available next time I go to buy something.
To be honest, 99% of our Echo usage has been playing music and adding things to a shopping list but I can see the potential there. There are a ton of apps, that Amazon calls skills, with new ones constantly being developed and I look forward to seeing what kind of cool stuff gets developed.