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Amazon unveiled an Alexa shopping machine for your kitchen

At $230, it’s the most expensive Alexa device yet.

The Amazon Echo Show
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Amazon continued its expansion of its Alexa family of devices on Tuesday, announcing an Echo with a touchscreen and camera that could serve both as a voice-controlled shopping machine as well as a rival to Skype and Apple’s FaceTime video-calling service.

The gadget, called the Echo Show, costs about $230 and can respond to voice commands just like other Alexa devices to play music, read weather reports and set a timer.

It can also display a selection of goods from Amazon when you don’t know exactly what you want — a limitation that has hindered voice commerce on Amazon’s other Alexa devices up till now. The screen can also be used to show a weather forecast or a Wikipedia page.

The addition of the touchscreen and video camera also brings video-conferencing capabilities to the Echo, creating an alternative to Apple’s FaceTime or Skype for people who have one of these devices or an Alexa app on their phone.

Customers can now also turn multiple Alexa devices in a home into an intercom system, a feature that Recode previously reported was coming. It’s worth noting Amazon has invested in a startup called Nucleus that makes an Alexa-powered video intercom system, but has decided to also pursue this path on its own.

While Amazon’s family of Echo devices have been a huge hit in the U.S. to date, the company has struggled to get device owners to try new skills and keep coming back to use them once they do. But industry insiders believe communication features can be killer apps for voice computing, and that a launch like this one can help Amazon push ahead.

Amazon is also rolling out an update for existing owners of other Echo devices that allows them to make voice calls to other Echo devices or to people who download the Alexa app for the iPhone or Android phones. You cannot currently link a phone number with the system.

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