Technology

Westpac and NAB connect with Amazon Alexa

Westpac and NAB connect with Amazon Alexa

You can preorder the Echo, the Echo Dot or the Echo Plus as of Thursday. According to the tech giant, the Echo gadgets will start shipping in early February and will be offered by JB Hi-Fi, Myer, Officeworks, and Telstra.

Cloud-powered Alexa is created to be always on and woken with a voice command. You can ask the device what the weather is like, manage calendar events, and tell it to play songs from the Unlimited Music service, among loads of other things.

Amazon only announced that availability would be in 2018 but did not specify when, but the good news for our readers in Australia and New Zealand is that we finally have a date to look forward to.

Australian diners can now make restaurant reservations without picking up the phone, thanks to a new partnership between Dimmi and Amazon's smart assistant Alexa.

Amazon Music Unlimited will launch with three monthly plan options: the full access Echo Plan at AU$4.99, the Individual Plan at AU$11.99, or the Family Plan, coming soon, in which up to six people can share a subscription for AU$17.99.

The company has also announced that its digital smart assistant, Alexa, will feature an Aussie accent.

Tariq Hassanen, Innovation Product Manager at amaysim signalled a move to a whole new way of interacting with business "Conversational interfaces will become ubiquitous in Australian homes within the next 2-3 years". For reference, only 40 percent of households had even one connected device in 2016.

Locally, the Echo is priced at $149.

For anyone looking to set up multi-room smarts, getting a two-pack of Dots for just $79 means you save more, while the Echo Plus comes with a bonus Philips Hue smart bulb.

Echo Plus (AU$229): The Echo Plus is not, as you might think, an Echo with a more powerful speaker (though its tweeter is half a centimetre bigger). The Plus includes a built-in smart home hub so you can easily connect your compatible smart devices like your lights.

The Echo has been available in the U.S. for years - well before Google entered the market - but this is the first time the gadget has been officially sold in Australia via Amazon's freshly-launched Aussie website. Amazon Music also has an introductory deal, with the company offering a free 90-day trial period, triple the standard 30-day trial period.