Watch out, Google: Amazon Echo could be in for a major upgrade soon

Sound system with a touchscreen

"Alexa, is there a new Amazon speaker with a 7-inch touchscreen on the way?"

It's doubtful your Alexa-powered machine will answer your query, but signs are pointing to a new, premium Amazon speaker making its debut as soon as early next year.

A new report from Bloomberg says the retail giant plans to launch an Echo-like speaker with a screen stretching about seven inches. What's more, the speaker will reportedly feature even better audio quality than what's available on the Amazon Echo.

The standout feature of the device would be, of course, its touchscreen. Amazon's current line of smart speakers - the Echo, Amazon Echo Dot and Tap - lack displays. 

The screen, which will reportedly tilt upward to face users, will give them easier access to content, such as weather information and news, according to Bloomberg's sources. Right now, Amazon's speakers are primarily controlled through voice via its smart assistant, Alexa.

Going up against competition like Google Home and a rumored Apple speaker that can sense your emotions, a display could help the new Amazon smart device stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

Can you hear - and see - me now?

In addition to a 7-inch touchscreen, the forthcoming (though still unconfirmed) device will apparently pack high-end speakers for better sound quality.

The Amazon Echo has many good features, but its sound is surprisingly sub-par. Amazon appears to have taken that criticism to heart, plotting an audio upgrade for its next item. 

The product will be larger than the Amazon speakers we've seen so far, as will its price, one source says. The Echo retails for $179.99 on Amazon, and it's currently £119.99 on Amazon UK, down from £149.99. 

Amazon did discount the Echo and its other speakers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, suggesting it could have been clearing inventory before introducing a new product.

We asked Amazon about the speaker, but were told the company doesn't comment on rumors and speculation. 

The device could make its entrance as early as the first quarter of 2017, so we don't have much longer to wait before we see if this new gizmo comes to life, touchscreen and all.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle is TechRadar's Senior News Editor and is based in the Bay Area. Covering all things tech, Michelle is obsessed with good handsets, smart machines and self-driving cars. With an eye on every corner of the industry, Michelle aims to bring you the most useful and entertaining bits about the tech you love. Got a tip? Drop her a line!