Newsmedia role as Alexa-with-a-screen 'shows you things'

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The impending launch of an Alexa Echo device with a screen has the industry wondering whether this could be the next digital publishing opportunity.

Amazon will launch the Echo Show next Wednesday (June 28) with the slogan, "everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things".

The company - which shares ownership with the Washington Post - says users will be able to watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photographs, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, browse and listen to audiobooks.

A handful of media companies are already using Alexa-powered devices devices for flash briefings, presented to users along with other mobile content. Newscycle Mobile - picked by Amazon for inclusion in its Alexa agencies and developer tools page - reports a number of users including Seattle broadcaster King5, the San Diego Union Tribune - both of which have journalists speaking the news content, rather than Alexa's robotic voice - and the Allentown Morning Call in Pennsylvania.

Newscycle's OTT technologies are also delivering content-on-demand to online audiences via Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast and other devices.

No announcement has yet been made on the use of video via the expanded Echo Show device.

Apart from the ability to communicate on hands-free video calls, and deliver the lyrics to songs on Amazon Music, Bezos' company has signed up streaming partnerships with Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn and iHeartRadio, and is compatible with cameras from Ring and Arlo. Smart home partnerships with WeMo, Philips Hue and ecobee will enable users to turn on lights and control thermostats.

A piece in the action for WaPo seems likely, but no plans to make access available to other publishers have yet been announced, although Allrecipes and CNN are signed.

Amazon - which offers the device for US$230 or $360 for two - promises Alexa Echo is "always getting smarter and adding new features," and of course, she's always listening.

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