Amazon Echo Frames: trying on the new Alexa smart glasses

As quickly as I put on Amazon’s new Echo Frames, I did the solely factor you must do in that state of affairs: I hit the button on the glasses’ left stem to show the quantity all the means up, and I mentioned, “Alexa, play Taylor Swift.” A few seconds later, “Lavender Haze” was blaring out of the Frames’ inside audio system, however solely I may hear it.

Okay: blaring is likely to be just a little a lot. The $269.99 Echo Frames, Amazon’s newest smart glasses with the Alexa voice assistant inbuilt, received’t precisely blow your eardrums off with their booming sound. I’d describe it extra like coffee-shop music — that ambient playlist meant to be heard however not the solely factor you hear — however in your ears solely. Amazon’s trying to create the identical form of open-ear “personal audio environment” that you simply’ll discover on Meta’s Stories glasses or the Bose Frames line. The sound is nice, and even the folks standing a couple of ft away from me at Amazon’s gadget launch occasion couldn’t hear it, however no pair of audio sun shades goes to outshine your headphones anytime quickly.

High-quality audio isn’t the level of the Echo Frames, anyway. These glasses exist for 2 causes: to appear and feel adequate to put on on your face all day and to provide you always-on entry to Alexa. And based mostly on my temporary testing, they’re an enormous step ahead in each classes.

All the Frames’ controls dwell on the stems — quantity on one facet, play-pause on the different.
Image: David Pierce / The Verge

It begins with the seems. The new Frames are available a number of kinds and colours, and Amazon’s providing a number of several types of lenses as effectively. Even the first mannequin of Frames, from 2020, seemed extra like a pair of glasses than most of its ilk, however that mannequin seemed extra like an impulse CVS purchase than a set of specs you actually care about. This time, the stems are slimmer, the glasses felt mild and well-balanced on my face, and the entire gadget is simply extra fashionable. Pair that with the proven fact that there aren’t two digital camera lenses stating at the world, and hardly anybody will suspect you of sporting a gadget.

As for Alexa entry, that hasn’t modified a lot. You’ll need to pair your Frames to a cellphone after which say “Alexa” to speak to the assistant. In my temporary hands-on, Alexa heard me and responded even in a crowded, noisy room, however we’ll have to check the way it works in wind and different difficult circumstances.

I seemed actually silly sporting these, however I preferred the blue Echo Frames lots.
Image: David Pierce / The Verge

The large problem for these glasses will likely be the identical as final time: what can Alexa actually do for you? At its launch occasion, Amazon spent most of its time speaking about the assistant’s potential in the smart dwelling, however these are explicitly extra cellular units. Playing music is effectively and good, and positive, you possibly can set timers and such, however is that sufficient to put on them on your face all day? Alexa can’t provoke cellphone requires you and even do a few of the device-control stuff you’ll get via Siri or Google Assistant. The Frames are a useful strategy to get to Alexa, however there’s solely a lot Alexa can do.

Ultimately, that’s why the seems are so necessary — if Amazon could make glasses you need to put on all day anyway, it received’t matter a lot whether or not you utilize all of them day. The Frames are positively a step in that route, however they’re not all the means there but.

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