Amazon Echo finally finds its British voice and heads to the UK

Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo

After what feels like one of the longest release delays in history, the Amazon Echo is finally coming to the UK - some two years after the device was launched in the US.

The Amazon Echo works by always being connected to your home Wi-Fi - and listening to you, thanks to its seven mics - acting like a fairly normal Bluetooth connected speaker with one big difference: it's voice activated and will act as your own personal voice assistant.

This is all thanks to Alexa - Amazon's Siri rival. Alexa 'learns' the more you speak to it. It will adapt to your preference and even the cadence in your voice once you have used it for a while.

If you need an alarm setting, or a question answering, mutter the magic word - Alexa - and the speaker will wake and fulfil your needs.

Alexa, where can I find a warm pint and a ploughman's?

If you fancy just using Amazon Echo as a speaker, then you'll be pleased to read that it's pretty well connected - offering up Prime Music, Spotify and other music streaming connectivity.

Amazon Echo UK

It has a 2.5-inch woofer inside, alongside a 2-inch tweeter, and the sound emanates 360 degrees from the device.

Using Alexa, you can also ask the device to play a song, album or just tell you if it's going to rain tomorrow. As we are in the UK, the answer will pretty much always be: 'probably'.

It is also UK centric, too. In the UK, we have proper sized pints, in the US they have smaller ones. Ask Alexa the size of a pint in litres and it gives the UK version. Ask it to spell colour and it spells it with a U. Ask it how tall is the Gherkin is and it comes up with the London tower's height, not the vegetable.

It also knows all about Blackadder and Monty Python.

Amazon Echo

Given the Amazon Echo could well be the starting point for your connected home, there is a companion app where you can manage your music, help with setup etc. While you shouldn't really need to use the app - as the Alexa AI should mean you can do most things with your voice - it's good that it's there for you if you need it.

Confirmed skills

To make sure that Alexa is in the best voice possible, Amazon has been rapidly expanding the 'skills' section of the Alexa app in the US.

Amazon Echo

This is essentially the app store for Alexa, where voice-activated apps are added. This all thanks to Amazon's Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service APIs - developers can use these to add Alexa compatibility to their apps. And it sure is popular.

Currently there are 3,000 in US and there will be some UK specific ones. Sky Sports, the Telegraph, the Guardian and Spotify will be partners from Day One. There will also be UK-specific smarthome connectivity, with the speaker working with the likes of Hive and Tado.

Amazon is also launching the Echo Dot that uses Alexa to be a smaller assistant throughout your home as well as controlling your smart devices. It looks like a much shorter version of the original Amazon Echo and can be connected to your speakers or headphones through a 3.5mm cable to play music.

You can connect it to your smart home devices from WeMo, Phillips Hue, Hive and more. There's a small in-built speaker for the device to also work as a smart alarm clock, but it's not going to play music to you without a separate speaker.

The best bit is you won't need an Echo for the Echo Dot to work in your home.

The Amazon Echo is out in the UK on September 28 - and there's a new colour too. The Echo and Echo Dot will be available in both black and white.

You'll be able to pre-order both the Echo and Echo Dot later today. The Amazon Echo is available for £149. If you are a Prime customer, then you will get £50 off. The Echo Dot will be £49.99. There is also a deal, where if you buy five of them you will get the sixth free. We're guessing if that's if you have a very big house.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.