Amazon Echo quietly goes on sale in Australia from $49

Amazon Echo quietly goes on sale in Australia from $49

Pre-orders for Australian Echo speakers are available from today (January 18th, 2018) via Amazon Australia's website, with the devices scheduled to ship early February.

Following a fairly mixed reception to its "Echo Show" offering, Amazon is targeting its alarm clock-cum-smart-camera, the Echo Spot, in the European market with its United Kingdom launch.

Amazon's Alexa will be customised for Australia - with Alexa sporting her very own Aussie accent, so Australians have a new mate to catch up on the latest in news and entertainment with, or to get some help around the house.

Developers will be able to build localized voice experiences and embed uniquely Australian and New Zealand knowledge within Alexa with the expansion of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) - a collection of self-service APIs - and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS).

February 1 also marks the shipping date for Australia and New Zealand's first Alexa-powered Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus devices.

In addition to receiving the Echos for the first time, New Zealand and Australia-based Amazon customers will also gain access to the Amazon Music Unlimited music streaming service on February 1. The Amazon Echo is A$119 ($95), the Echo Dot is A$49 ($39), and the Echo Plus is A$199 ($160).

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Major bank Westpac has been working with ecommerce giant Amazon to install banking services on Alexa for Australian consumers. It will also be available at JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, Telstra and Myer.

The online employment service said it had launched a trio of skills for Alexa.

"It's still early days for having conversations with your technology, but we're continuing to discover new ways to adapt and integrate that into our daily lives", he says. The company states the platform boasts a "catalogue of more than 45 million songs" and "hundreds of hand-curated playlists and stations featuring acclaimed local talent".

Time will tell if smart home novices will spurn their iPad for watching their favourite TV show or seeing the news on a small, circular screen, but hey, who doesn't like to start their day with a singalong? With a 2.5-inch woofer, a dedicated tweeter, 360-degree audio and Dolby sound, it's a capable standalone smart speaker for any home.

The project, named Westpac Banking Skill, has seen the development of a range of functions such as account balance and recent transaction updates, while it also enables users to receive Westpac's finance industry news bulletins.