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Want Your eBooks Read to You? Amazon’s Working on an SDK for the Echo

Amazon’s working on a software development kit for its 4-month-old in-home digital concierge, opening up the possibility that independent developers will soon be able to create third-party apps for the Echo.

The retailer revealed the news in an email to Echo users on Friday. “For those who want to help shape Echo’s future, the team is working on an SDK to help hobbyist and enthusiast developers create new apps and experiences,” the message said. The email also included a link to a signup page where developers and other interested parties can submit their email and ask to be notified of the SDK’s beta test as well as any local events.

Today’s news, while thin, suggests that there continues to be enough interest both with customers and with outside developers to justify the expense. That’s good news for anyone who thought the Echo could really use a fart button app.

Kidding aside, I’d like to see the Echo gain the ability to act as an VOIP client, and also read ebooks, emails, and other text documents to you.

I’ve been wanting Kindle ebook support since the Echo launched, although to be honest I don’t think I’d want to buy an Echo even if it had that ability. I’ve read enough stories of late on the problems of smart devices that I’m soured on the idea of sharing my space with an always on microphone.

The Echo remains an invite-only product, available for $99 to Amazon Prime members and $199 to others.



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DavidW March 2, 2015 um 9:11 am

I remember my first Kindle (the third generation) could read ebooks to you. It was such a popular feature that it was immediately discontinued in the next model.

Common Sense March 2, 2015 um 2:28 pm

We love our Echo and I got my parents one too (I have two Amazon accounts). It would be fabulous to add VOIP and audiobook capability.

I like the current functionality, although there are some annoying quirks. I have my two accounts householded so I can switch accounts for music content, but I shouldn’t have to remember which account has which music, Echo should be able to determine that for me. The shopping and To Do lists are also single threaded, they assumed that one household would have one list, but anyone who’s used a shopping list knows that you usually have more than one list. So if my Mom wants to use the shopping list, her device has to leave the household, which would also remove her access to Prime content.

Publishing Tales: Stories about Literature from across the Web (Feb 26 – Mar 5) March 6, 2015 um 8:01 am

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