What Can We Expect At Amazon’s Fall 2022 Devices & Services Event?
September 25, 2022
I don’t think it’s any secret that Debbie and I have been developing an Alexa-centric smart home. Google Home is still a strong competitor out there and Apple HomeKit has been gaining momentum as well. As an Alexa user and a smart home gadget fan in general, I look forward this time each year for Amazon’s annual fall Devices & Services event.
The event will air starting on Wednesday, September 28 at 9am PT and will be virtual this year. Unlike livestream keynotes from Apple and Google, Amazon’s hardware event will be by invite only.
As the date has gotten closer, rumors have begun to surface. It’s safe to assume we’ll see new Echo devices, and likely more products from Amazon’s subsidiaries like Ring and Blink. Along with the usual Echo and Ring refreshes, we can expect some surprises, such as the Alexa-enabled Echo Astro robot.
Last year Amazon announced and launched the Echo Show 15 — but what we didn’t see were new smart speakers. The Echo 4th Gen is now two years old, which is about the average generation time for Amazon (Echo 3rd Gen launched in 2018). With every new iteration of the Echo comes a new model of the Echo Dot, so if the Echo 5th Gen makes an appearance, it’s safe to say that a new Dot will as well.
This is supported even more by a recent Federal Communications Commisssion (FCC filing) for a new Amazon product. It’s listed as a “digital media receiver.” As for looks or features, Amazon is extremely skilled at keeping information like this a secret, but conclusions can be drawn based on past announcements.
Speculating, the Echo Dot 5th Gen will keep its spherical shape simply because that’s the most popular design at the moment (check out the HomePod Mini), while the Echo 5th Gen might look something like the Nest Audio. And the Dolby Atmos-enabled Echo Studio is now three years old, and Echo Sub is even older. Each of those speakers is due for updating.
The Ring Always Home Cam drew a lot of attention at last year’s event. Personally. I thought it’d be really interesting addition to anyone’s smart home as who wouldn’t want an airborne home security drone? But it hasn’t exactly been flying off the shelves (I couldn’t resist the pun) — mainly due to privacy concerns. This has only been reinforced with Amazon’s recent purchase of iRobot and their floorplan mapping technology. Although the Ring Always Home Cam is a confirmed product, it’s still not available for purchase except by invitation.
There hasn’t been a lot of news about the Ring Always Home Cam since then but given that the it already exists, we might expect an announcement of open availability. There could possibly even be improvements based on customer feedback over the past year.
Like the Ring Always Home Cam, the Amazon Astro was another experimental product. Amazon describes it as a ‘household robot’ for home security. It’s also only available for purchase through invitation for $999. Considering after the introductory price expires, Amazon plans to charge $1,499, it’s still just a glorified security camera that will roam your house.
I just hope that what looks like drink holders on the back doesn’t mislead buyers into thinking Astro could deliver beers from the fridge while catching a football game. If it could do that it might justify the price tag. As of March this year, Amazon had only sold a few hundred of its Astro robots since its launch last year. Maybe an announcement on improvements this year could change that.
Not surprisingly, with Amazon’s naming rights deal at Climate Pledge Arena, they have made a more environmentally friendly commitment with their devices. A recent Amazon blog post talks about the benefit of doing so. The company seeks to reduce its overall carbon footprint and use more recyclable materials in the production of its smart devices.
Both the Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) and the Echo Show 15 released last year. Although Amazon’s smart displays typically follow a launch schedule similar to their smart speakers, the displays also bring a significant increase in functionality. While we likely won’t see any new Echo Show displays, there has been chatter of a revamped Echo Auto. If you’re unfamiliar with this device, it’s a palm-sized component that mounts on an air vent in your car and connects to your speakers via Bluetooth or an auxiliary jack. Based on a (now deleted) listing found on Amazon’s warranty page, a second-gen version of the accessory might be on the way.
There have been rumors of a new, third-gen Fire TV Cube. I’m a huge fan of these Alexa-powered devices as they let you control your TV and other home theater components with your voice. I have the second-gen devices attached to all of my TVs at home and they’re so easy to use our grandkids are experts. Not much is known about the new Cube other than it’s coming, possibly as soon as next Wednesday’s Amazon event.
There have been rumors of a new smart display (or an updated version of one of the existing displays) that could appear at this year’s event. The Echo Show 15 is a pretty impressive device but there are still areas where it can improve, both on the hardware and software sides.
It’s been a couple years since Amazon first announced Sidewalk. Its an ambitious smart device network that enables Ring, Echo, and other compatible devices to work together, creating a low-power, long-range network. The plan is that the network would be large enough to cover an entire neighborhood. Sidewalk can help smart home users install motion sensors and other low-power, low-data devices outside their homes without the need for Wifi. The growing standard now has partners such as Tile and Level, makers of the Level lock. As there’s hasn’t been a lot of news about Sidewalk’s progress lately I’m hopeful there will be an update next week.
There’s also Matter, the impending smart home standard that promises to bridge the gaps between the Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home smart ecosystems. Expected to arrive this fall, Matter leverages Thread to connect disparate smart devices together in a secure, low-power, and self-healing mesh network. All the big smart home players have been detailing their Matter support recently.
Amazon has pledged support for the initiative, so an increased focus on Matter-compatible devices wouldn’t be surprising at the event. This would mean more devices could interact with Alexa, which would not only broaden the entire platform, but would make the smart home easier to access for everyone.
Amazon has always been good about keeping a lid on rumors, and this year is no different as there haven’t been many leaks. Finally, we should expect the unexpected. The Astro and Always Home Cam were both out of the ordinary product launches, and last year we got the Amazon Glow. The Glow is an interactive gadget for kids that combines a display, a projector and an object scanner. I found these particularly compelling as our grandkids are located around the country and they would give us an opportunity to remotely engage with them on educational and creative projects.
So the big question is ‘will there be surprises this year?’ I’m hoping so. Especially if they can get that Astro beer delivery thing figured out.
I’m curious what you may be anticipating or hoping for with this week’s announcements. Any predictions on innovative, new products? Which of the devices referenced above do you currently use? If Amazon announces upgrades to your devices will you upgrade?
Let Debbie and I know in the comments, DMs and emails as we really enjoy hearing from you. Thanks again to all those following Debbie and I through our home building journey. It’s great to hear your success stories and suggestions as we move through the process. And if you like the content I’m posting each week, don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow.’ Until next week …
In full disclosure, I’m not an affiliate marketer with links to any online retailer on my website. When people read what I’ve written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn nothing from the retailer. The links are strictly a convenience for my readers.