The Amazon Echo has been one of the more popular smarthome devices released over the last few years. Now the company hopes the latest incarnation will make up for what the short-lived smartphone under their brand lacked.
With the Fire phone, there just wasn’t enough traction to ever get a phone service off the ground for the massive online retailer. The Amazon Echo could be a better bet, as it allows for the expanded capabilities of their smarthome flagship. Free calls is enticing, especially with the Echo Show as the latest version, providing a 7″ high definition screen.
That hasn’t been the big conversation to be sparked by the announcement, however.
Amazon Echo Show Privacy Concerns
Privacy has been an obstacle for all of these devices, especially in a post-Snowden world. In the past, Amazon has been careful about considering this fact, going out of their way to offer assurances to their users about the safety of their information.
But with Alexa Calling, their new phone service, there is a new feature that is raising eyebrows. It is called Drop In. This feature allows people to “check” that someone is home before the call is connected. Think of it as a way of taking a peek through the area to make sure someone is home to answer before you make the call.
Amazon is pushing the idea that this is something that warrants the potential privacy violations. For example, what if your kids are home alone and you want to take a quick peek to make sure all is well in case they don’t answer the call? Or you haven’t heard from an elderly parent for awhile, and you need to make sure they are OK?
It is kind of a reach. Even with that capability, it would be limited. And in the meantime, it offers an opportunity for exploitation that isn’t hard to imagine. Amazon’s insistence that it would only be used with the closest people in our lives doesn’t help as much as they think.
Of course, this is the risk with all smarthome products. If you are still interested, some of the capabilities of the Echo Show will be:
- Free calls
- Hands-free calling via voice orders
- Time and calendar management
- Camera and surveillance monitoring
- Media streaming
- Local information, such as weather and traffic
- Photo viewing
- Project and todolist management
- Lifestyle tools, such as alarm clocks
- Multi-device integration