Amazon is finally bringing its Alexa smart assistant to mobile, or at least to its new Fire HD 8 tablet.
The latest version of the Amazon Fire HD 8 sports the same name as its predecessor and the same 8-inch display with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, but it boasts twice the base storage (32 GB instead of 16 GB) and also more RAM, now at 1.5 GB. The new model also sports a larger battery that should last for up to 12 hours on a single charge, according to Amazon.
It may not have the highest-end specs, but the new Amazon Fire HD 8 costs just $90 and the most notable selling point is Alexa, the company’s voice-controlled virtual assistant. The previous generation started at $150, sans Alexa.
Just to be clear, the Fire HD 8 doesn’t boast Alexa just yet, but it’s “coming soon.” The feature will roll out through a software upgrade, but all we know at this point is that it will be sometime in the following months. Amazon has yet to provide a more specific time frame, but it should offer more details shortly.
When Alexa does become available, Fire HD 8 users will be able to tap into the power of Alexa and have the assistant read the news, set reminders, call an Uber ride and more. Considering the Fire HD 8 is mainly designed as an entertainment device, Alexa’s job could revolve around that.
“Alexa provides quick access to the entertainment you want, including music, games, audiobooks, and more,” notes Amazon. “You can also ask Alexa questions, check your calendar, get news, find sports scores, and even control your smart home. All you have to do is press and ask. Alexa will be available via a free over-the-air software update in the coming months.”
Amazon will also show cards with various information based on voice queries, which sounds pretty similar to how Google displays details in Google Now. If you ask Alexa about the weather, for instance, the assistant will deliver a forecast and visually display the current weather state.
This will mark the first time that Alexa hits mobile, as so far the assistant has been available on devices such as the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Tap speakers and the company’s more recent Fire TV models, but not on any tablets or smartphones.
It’s worth pointing out, however, that it will not be the very same Alexa experience as with the Echo speaker. While the Echo speaker is always listening and ready to take a command, the mobile experience will require users to push the tablet’s home button to fire up Alexa. Nonetheless, it’s still easy and convenient.
The new Amazon Fire HD 8 is now available for preorder at $89.99 for the 16 GB version and $119.99 for the 32 GB model, and will hit retail on Sept. 21. As for Alexa, we’ll let you know as soon as we learn more about the update.
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