After months of rumours, Amazon confirmed that it’s now officially launching its Alexa smart assistant to Canada.
The cloud-based AI that has been available for years south of the border and featured in commercials with Hollywood celebrities will come to Canada along with Amazon’s Echo hardware. Three devices will be released Dec. 5 and are available for pre-order now:
- Amazon Echo – the original voice-controlled speaker that provides Alexa access will be available in Sandstone, heather grey, and charcoal. It will be available at launch for an “introductory price” of $99. Regular price is $129.99.
- Echo Dot – the compact device that is designed to extend Alexa into multiple rooms, or connect with a better speaker, is available in black and white. It’s being introduced for $49.99 and its regular price is $69.99.
- Echo Plus – The recently-introduced sequel to the original Echo features all the Alexa features, plus ZigBee wireless smart home connections. Its introductory price is $169.99 and regular is $199.99.
Amazon had been asking Canadian brands to show interest in the Alexa platform by building Alexa Skills – third-party voice services that can be enabled on Alexa devices. It looks like it got its wish with several major brands launching Alexa skills to the platform before the end of the year:
- Air Canada will allow customers to check for information on flights, ticket prices, and baggage carousel updates.
- Telus will let customers make calls through their mobile phones and check billing and data usage status
- CBC provides local news and flash briefings
- IT World Canada offers flash briefings as well, with Hashtag Trending and Tech in Sports
In addition to the Echo hardware, Amazon is releasing its Prime Music service to Canada. That allows members of the Amazon Prime service to access the cloud music service at no additional cost. Amazon is also making a Smart Home store available on its e-commerce site.
Other Alexa-enabled devices will also be available in Canada soon, including the Toronto-based Ecobee’s ecobee4 smart thermostat. Also, Canadian firm Fabriq’s multi-room Chorus speakers will become available.
If you’re setting up your Alexa flash briefing, make sure to check out ITWC’s daily technology news podcast Hashtag Trending. Just add it to your flash briefing lineup to learn everything you need to know about the top trending stories in technology every day in about two minutes.