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The 8 features of Amazon and Google need to be added to the Echo and Home TechCrunch



Amazon Echo and Google Home are amazing devices and both have advantages over the other. In my house we use the Amazon Echo and have it around the house and outside. I have the original in the living room, a dot in the bedrooms, my office and outside, a faucet in my wood workshop, and spots in the nursery (taped in front of the camera). They are great devices, but far from perfect. It lacks several key features, and Google Home lacks the same things.

I interviewed TechCrunch employees. The following features we would like to see in the next generation of these devices:

IR Blaster

At the moment, it is possible for Echo and Home to control a TV, but only through third-party devices. If the echo or home had a top-mounted 360-degree IR blaster, the smart speakers could natively control televisions, entertainment systems, and heaters and coolers.

Echo and Homes are naturally placed outdoors and make the devices well suited for devices with infrared interface. With the words "Turn on TV" or "Turn on AC", the echo could send the IR codes from the echo to the TV or to the wall-mounted AV unit.

This would require that Amazon and Google integrate a complete universal device remote scheme into the Echo and Home. This is not a small task. Companies like Logitech Harmony, Universal Remote Control and others are interested in making sure that their remote controls are compatible with everything in the marketplace. It seems to be an endless battle for the discovery of new IR codes, but one that I would like to tackle on Amazon and Google. I would like to be able to control my electric chimney and the electric blinds with my echo.

A special app for music and the smart home

The current home and Alexa apps are bloated and unusable for everyday use. I suspect this is by design as it forces the users to use the speaker for most tasks. Echo and Home deserve better.

At the moment, Amazon and Google seem to want users to set up these devices by voice. And that's fine. If a user uses these speakers to listen to Spotify or control a series of hue lights, the current app and language configuration will work properly. However, if a user wants to echo to a handful of smart home devices from different vendors, a dedicated app for the smart home ecosystem should be available ̵

1; bonus points if there is a desktop app for even more complex systems.

Take a look at Sonos. The Sonos One is a fantastic speaker and arguably the best sounding multiroom speaker system. Although Alexa is built into the speaker, the Sonos app is still useful, as it would be for the Echo and Home. A dedicated music app would make it easy for echo and home users to browse music sources and select tracks, and control playback on different devices.

The Smart Speakers Can Be the Center of Complex Smart Home Ecosystems and Earn a Compatible Companion App for Setup and Maintenance

Logitech's Harmony app is a good example here as well. With this desktop app, users can set up multiple universal remote controls. The same should be available for Echo and Home devices. For example, my children have their own Spotify accounts and do not need voice access to my Vivint home security system or the Hue lights in the living room. I want a way to make echoing devices easier throughout the house. The establishment of such a system is currently not possible and would be clunky and tiring by a mobile app, unless it is intended for the purpose.

Mesh Networking

Devices such as Eero and Netgear's Orbi line are popular because they easily flood an area with Wi-Fi that's faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi sent from a single access point. Mesh mesh should be included in Google Home or Amazon Echo.

These devices are designed to be placed outdoors and in common areas, which is also the best placement for Wi-Fi routers. Incorporating a mesh network extender into these devices would make them more attractive and encourage owners to buy more while improving the owner's Wi-Fi capability. Everyone wins.

The purchase of Eero seems to be the logical game for Amazon or Google. The company already produces one of the best mesh network products on the market. The products are well designed and packaged in small enclosures. Even if Google or Amazon does not incorporate the mesh network bits directly into the speaker, it could be integrated into the loudspeaker's wall power network, allowing both companies to quickly implement it in its product lines and offer it as a logical add-on. Secondary purchase [19659003] 3.5mm optical output

I have several dots connected to full audio systems thanks to the 3.5mm output. But it's just two-channel analog, which is good for NPR, but I want more.

For several generations, the MacBook Pro shook an optical output through the 3.5mm jack. I suspect that it was not widespread, which caused Apple to cancel the latest generation. It would be nice if Echo and Home also had this option.

At the moment, the digital connection would not make much difference in the quality of the audio as the device streams at a relatively low bitrate. But if Google or Amazon decide to use higher-quality audio files, as offered by Tidal, this would be a must for the hardware.

Outdoor Edition

I spend a lot of time outside in the summer and managed to install an Echo Dot on my deck. The dot is not meant to be installed outside, and although my setup has survived a year out there, it would be an all-weather echo that's much more rugged and weatherproof.

So I have an Echo Dot installed on my deck. Mount one of these electrical boxes in a location where the Echo Dot will not stay in the rain. Take out one of the sides of the box and place the dot in the box. The point should be clear and pointing down. Plug the power cord and 3.5mm cable through the hole in the side and feed the audio signal to an amplifier like this to power a number of external speakers. I used asphalt shingles to cover the top of both devices to protect them from water dripping from the deck. This setup has survived the summer and winter in Michigan so far.

I live outside a city and have always had speakers outside. From my point under the deck, he can still pick up my voice and control Spotify and my smart home while I'm in my backyard. It's a great experience and I wish Amazon or Google would make a version of their smart speakers so more people could get their voice assistants out.

Improved privacy

There is an inherent horror when listening to devices throughout the house. An early bug caused Google Home Mini to record everything and send the records back to Google. Consumers should have more options on how Amazon and Google can handle the recorded data.

There should be an option that allows the user to send footage to Amazon or Google even when concessions need to be made. If necessary, give the user the option to disable several functions, or decide whether to delete the records after a few days or weeks.

Consumers will soon seek this kind of control if the subject grows in intensity after the Facebook error and it would be wise for Google and Amazon to surpass consumer expectations.

A new portable speaker

I use a tap in my workshop and it does a good job. But the fabric cover gets dirty. And I discovered that it is not durable after being dropped once. Even worse, if the Always Listen mode is on, the speaker must be put back on the dock after 12 hours, or the battery is completely discharged.

The Tap was one of the first Amazon Echo devices. Originally, users had to press a button to enable Alexa, but the company added voice activation after launch. It's a handy speaker, but it's due for an upgrade.

A portable echo or home must be suitable for all weather conditions, durable and easy to clean. It must have a dock and a built-in micro-USB port and voice-controlled control – bonus points if unknown voices can be locked.

Enhanced Accessibility Features

Voice assistants make technology more accessible because there are still features that should be added. There are many people with speech impediments who can hear very well, but an Alexa Echo or Google Home will not recognize their language at all.

Apple added this ability to Siri. Users can query them. This option is available on iOS 11 in the Accessibility menu. Google Home and Amazon Echo should have the same function.

Users should be able to send text requests via their mobile phone to Echo (from the Alexa app via a chatbot in text format) and still listen to the answer and still use all the capabilities and smart home integration. From a technical point of view, it would be trivial, as it would not require a translation of speech into text and would increase the attractiveness of the device for a new buyer's market.

Motion Sensors

There are several cases when a built-in motion sensor would improve the user experience of a speech assistant.

A morning alarm could increase its intensity if no movement is detected – or similar, it could be disabled by detecting a certain amount of movement. Motion detectors could also act as light switches, turn on lights when movement is detected, and then turn lights off when motion is no longer detected. But there is more, automatic lowering of the volume when no movement is detected, additional sensors for alarms and detection of users for HVAC systems.


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