As with most Amazon product launches, the new smart devices will have some neat tricks up their sleeve, such as the Echo Show 8’s ability to pan and zoom during video calls to keep callers centered or the augmented reality technology that lets you create animated video calls. add comments to a video call. Some, like pan and zoom, are exclusive to one or more of the new devices, but others, like animated reactions, are rolling out to all Echo Shows.
We’ve already covered what’s new about the updated Echo Show devices, plus looked at Alexa’s new sound detection triggers and how you can turn your Alexa display’s webcam into a security camera — but there’s more. Here are the rest of the features that have already arrived – or will soon be – on your Alexa smart speaker or display.
Amazon Sidewalk goes live on June 8: here’s what you need to know
There’s been a lot of buzz about Amazon Sidewalk ahead of the shared Wi-Fi service’s debut on June 8, and we wouldn’t hesitate to mention the company’s new low-bandwidth shared wireless network as one of the new features coming on the market. Echo devices arrive this week. To help readers make a more informed decision about Amazon Sidewalk, we’ve explained:, picked and even gave detailed steps for if you decide you’d rather not participate.
There are perfectly valid reasons to opt out of Amazon Sidewalk, but there are also good reasons to give it a try. If the idea is to open up a small chunk of your monthly bandwidth so you and your neighbors can have wider, more reliable wireless service for your smart home devices, give it a try. You can always choose to unsubscribe later.
Update Grandma’s Photo Album with Shared Home Screen
One of the things Amazon’s smart Echo Show displays do best is displaying photos – hopefully even more so when the new Show 8 arrives with a display that adapts to ambient light conditions to help enhance your images.
But while Echo Shows have always been good at displaying photos, they weren’t great at sharing them. Go to shared home screens. The name of the feature is a bit of a misnomer – you really only need one Echo Show for it to work. The person sending photos just needs to save them to Amazon Photos, which can then be linked to the account of the person with the Echo display.
Before going through the steps below, make sure three things are in order:
- Install the latest firmware on your Echo Show by swiping down from the top of the screen and navigating to Settings, than Device Options and Check for software updates.
- Log in Amazon Photos mobile app with the same account you use for Alexa.
- Import contacts is enabled in your Alexa app under To communicate, More menu (three stacked dots), Import contacts.
Once that’s all fixed, here’s how to enable the shared home screen feature:
1. On the destination Echo Show, swipe down and select Settings or say, “Alexa, set up my photo view.”
2. Select Clock & Photo View, than Amazon Photos and tap Invite friends and family.
3. Select the contact whose photos you want to view.
4. The person you’ve now selected should respond to the push notification asking if they want to share photos.
Soon you will be able to add comments and backgrounds to video calls
During the pandemic, video calling platforms of every stripe have added all sorts of fun, silly, and sometimes privacy-enhancing features like wallpapers and comments on their apps. It’s better late than never for Alexa.
The feature isn’t live yet, but if it is, Amazon says you can tap the screen to choose animated visual and audio responses (hearts, smiles, and confetti are Amazon’s examples). You also make yourself appear to street art, a classic painting, or other digitally overlaid backgrounds that obscure the actual room you’re in.
Here’s a rundown of the other new Alexa features we like
There are a few more new Alexa features we haven’t covered yet that aren’t necessarily dazzling enough to deserve their own subsection, but are at least useful enough to deserve a mention:
Kid Friendly Clock Themes about the upcoming Echo Show Kids: Not quite sure what those will look like, but we can’t wait to find out.
Music recommendations on the screen from Amazon Music or Spotify: We’ve written about this before, but if you blink you can miss it, and it’s worth a reminder at the very least.
Zoom support: So you can have Zoom conversations, where many people first discovered the fun of AR wallpapers.