Amazon Echo plus Alexa in UK – all you need to know

AMAZON RELEASES ECHO IN THE UKGet ready to get your gadge on, Gadgety faithful. Amazon Echo has arrived in the UK and anyone that’s seen Mr Robot will know Alexa, the in-built assistant.

Amazon Echo is the voice-controlled speaker that hands you access to Amazon’s popular Alexa voice service.

The launch of Amazon’s new Internet of Things (IoT) smart-controller, along with the Alexa voice service here in the UK, has happened 2 years after it appeared in the US.

The voice activated gadget can play music, read emails and even order you an Uber.

Echo and Alexa

Alexa is the brain behind the device. Just ask and she’ll answer questions, play music, read the news, set timers and alarms, recite your calendar, check sports scores, control lights around your home, and much more.

Alexa is always getting smarter. Amazon says that there’s tens of thousands of developers building skills for Alexa using self-service APIs.

AMAZON RELEASES ECHO IN THE UKYou’ll no doubt be happy to hear that UK Alexa has thousands of skills at launch. So, Spotify, Uber, Philips Hue, Hive, Just Eat, National Rail Enquiries, and more, are there for the asking.

echo-skillsJeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO, said:

Millions across the US have already fallen in love with Alexa. And, predictably, she’s even more likeable with a British accent. We’re delighted to be bringing Echo and Alexa to the UK.”

Amazon Echo price and availability

Amazon Echo is available now in black or white for just £149.99.

Alexa developer quotes
The following quotes from companies who have developed skills for Alexa, including BMW, EDF Energy, Fitbit, The Guardian, Hive, Jamie Oliver Media Group, Just Eat, Laundrapp, Netatmo, Rail Delivery Group, Philips Lighting, Spotify, TuneIn and Uber.
BMW, one of the leading automotive manufacturers connecting people, vehicles, and services, is now giving drivers a new voice.
“With the arrival of Amazon Echo in the UK and Germany, customers will for the first time be able to manage their personal mobility agenda and operate vehicle functions like “lock doors” via voice command from their homes, thanks to Alexa and BMW Connected. The integration between Alexa and BMW Connected is underlining BMW’s promise to constantly integrate BMW Connected into new touchpoints and to expand its digital services,” says Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Services and Business Models at the BMW Group.
EDF Energy
EDF Energy, one of the UK’s largest energy companies, is using ASK to provide its customers with a new and easy way to get information about their energy use.
“Amazon Alexa creates a fantastic opportunity to simplify life at home for our customers,” said Beatrice Bigois, Managing Director of Customers at EDF Energy. “Our innovation accelerator Blue Lab has used the Alexa Skills Kit to open up new, simple and easy ways for customers to interact with their energy. For instance, customers will be able to speak to Alexa to access their energy account, check their next payment date or give a meter reading. EDF Energy is very excited about Alexa coming to the UK, and we are proud to be the first energy supplier to offer this service to our customers.”
Fitbit, a leader in the connected health and fitness categories, is leveraging ASK to provide users with voice access to their health and fitness stats.
“The integration between Fitbit and Alexa will give our customers in the UK a new and fun way to stay on top of their health and fitness objectives,” said Tim Roberts, Executive Vice President, Interactive at Fitbit. “Leveraging the APIs offered through the Alexa Skills Kit, we created the Fitbit skill to give our users hands-free access to their data within seconds. By creating an easy way to find out their step count or how they slept last night, users can know if they’re on track with their goals – all without needing to check your tracker or Fitbit app.”
Hive, a leader in smart home technology, is using ASK to enable customers to control their home using just their voice.
“We believe giving people the ability to turn down the temperature in a room or dim the lights through simple voice commands will be a game-changer,” said Kass Hussain, Director at Hive. “At Hive, we want to make the smart home accessible to everyone, not just the few. To make this a reality, we must make the technology simple and easy to use, and that's why we're so excited about the Alexa Skills Kit. Accessing Hive through Alexa will make life easier for our existing customers, as well as introduce a whole new set of people to the life-changing benefits of being more in control of your home.  We're looking forward to exploring all the possibilities that Hive integration with Alexa opens up.”
Jamie Oliver Media Group
The Jamie Oliver Media Group aims to inspire, encourage and empower people who want to cook at home, and will use ASK to provide customers with hands-free access to Jamie’s recipes.
“Encouraging people to cook from scratch is at the heart of Jamie's food revolution and we are always looking for new ways to inspire a healthy approach to food,” said Zoe Collins, Creative Director, Jamie Oliver Media Group. “We are delighted to be part of the Alexa launch with our innovative Jamie Oliver recipe skill, designed to make it easy to find delicious and nutritious meals—even if your hands are busy doing something else—and cook with Jamie virtually at your side.”
Just Eat
Just Eat, a UK digital marketplace for food delivery, is leveraging ASK to allow customers to order food just by asking.
“With Just Eat on Alexa, our customers can now order food from over 27,000 restaurants just by asking,” said Fernando Fanton, Chief Product & Technology Officer at Just Eat. “At Just Eat we're always looking at how we can harness the latest innovations in consumer technology to help make our customers' lives easier and to make food discovery exciting for everyone. The Just Eat skill for Alexa is a great way for us to continue to make the Just Eat ordering experience part of our customers' everyday routines and experiences. We're thrilled to be on board as one of Alexa's launch skills in the UK.”
Laundrapp, the UK start-up that provides an innovative on-demand laundry service across the UK, has used ASK to empower customers to arrange their laundry or dry cleaning service using just their voice.
“We believe Alexa and Amazon Echo have tremendous potential and will offer our customers an even more convenient way to do their dry cleaning,” Edward Relf, Laundrapp CEO & Co-founder, Laundrapp. “Our team has created the world’s first fully voice-activated laundry service on Alexa. All customers have to do is ask Alexa, then relax as Laundrapp collects, cleans and delivers at a time and place they choose.”
Smart home company Netatmo is also integrating its Smart Thermostat with Alexa, leveraging ASK to enable customers to control their energy settings just by asking.
“With Amazon Echo and Alexa, our customers can voice-control their heating and improve their comfort at home without lifting a finger,” said Fred Potter, Founder and CEO of Netatmo. “Integrating Amazon Alexa demonstrates our ability to provide our customers with the most advanced technologies—not only are we enabling customers to save of energy and control their heating remotely, they can do so using only their voice. We’re very excited to be part of the launch of Alexa in the UK.”
Rail Delivery Group
Rail Delivery Group is using ASK to give passengers access to train schedules through their voice.
“We’re pleased to take part in the launch of Alexa, which gives people another quick and easy way to request information from National Rail Enquiries, the definitive source of customer information about rail services across Britain,” said David Gloster, Head of Customer Journey, Rail Delivery Group. “Customers using Alexa will get up-to-the minute information about trains and services right across the network.”
Philips Lighting
Philips Lighting, a global provider of lighting products, systems and services is using ASK to bring voice control to their Philip Hue’s devices.
“Building on the strong relationship we have with Amazon, we’re very pleased to launch our Alexa skill in the UK”, said Sridhar Kumaraswamy, Business Leader Home Systems at Philips Lighting. “Working with leading players like Amazon to take full advantage of the Alexa Skill Kit enables us to deliver entirely new, rich lighting experiences, simply controlled by your voice.”
Spotify brings people the right music for every moment and is using ASK to give listeners voice control over their playlists on Alexa-enabled devices.
“Spotify is committed to making it as easy as possible for our users to enjoy the music they love whenever and wherever they are,” said Ian Geller, Global Head of Hardware Business Development at Spotify. “We’ve enjoyed working with Amazon and we’re thrilled that our customers in the UK can now choose to listen to Spotify as their default music streaming service on Alexa-enabled devices via the Alexa Skills Kit.”
TuneIn allows users to stream audio from around the world and is giving its customers voice control over the service with Alexa.
"The expansion of Amazon Echo and Alexa to the UK represents significant growth for TuneIn," said John Donham, TuneIn CEO. “We are thrilled to work with Amazon as Alexa capabilities expand in one of our fastest growing international regions, helping us achieve our mission of delivering the best listening experiences to people around the world."
Uber, a global transportation network company, is leveraging ASK to easily let customers order a ride without using a device.
"We're thrilled that the magic of Alexa is now available to more people,” said Rahul Bijor, Head of Product, Strategic Partnerships, Uber. “Having the ability to ask Alexa to get you an Uber just by using your voice takes the magic of getting a ride to an entirely new level. We used to say tap a button get a ride; now with the help of Alexa, you don't have to lift a finger."