The Amazon Echo, the e-retailer’s smart home appliance, could be getting a makeover.
The tech giant is working on a new version of the Echo that would come with a 7-inch touchscreen, bucking the touchless design the current Amazon Echo offers, Bloomberg is reporting, citing sources who claim to have knowledge of the company’s plans. The redesigned Echo would still work with Amazon’s virtual personal assistant Alexa, but rely more on the touchscreen rather than voice commands for control.
Amazon’s Echo has become one of the more popular smart home appliances on the market. The device, which made its debut in 2014, features a speaker for playing music and audiobooks. It also comes with a microphone that can listen to a user’s vocal commands and respond accordingly. The Echo relies on “skills” that when tapped into, let users turn lights on and off, control their thermostats, and much more. It’s designed to be an entertainment device and a central hub for controlling the home.
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The Echo has proven popular and, as of this writing, is the third best-seller on Amazon.com. Its success hasn’t gone unnoticed by competitors. Google this year, for instance, replaced an Amazon Echo clone it’s calling the Google Home. While it doesn’t have all of the “skills” the Echo offers, it delivers many of the same features. While Apple hasn’t released an Echo competitor, rumors of late say the company is working on one and if it passes muster, might find its way to store shelves next year.
According to Bloomberg‘s sources, Amazon’s
decision to rely less on Alexa and more on a touchscreen is due in part to it wanting to hedge against inroads made by Google and Apple. The company also believes that a touchscreen will make it easier to perform certain tasks, like creating calendar appointments or getting the news, according to the outlet’s sources.
Still, a touchscreen-enabled Echo would represent a major departure from its current design. The Echo today is a black cylinder with no touchscreen. In fact, the device doesn’t have a display for viewing content. All of its functionality is delivered audibly or via a companion app.
For more about Amazon’s Echo, watch:
Amazon isn’t looking to eliminate core Echo features and is instead looking at ways to improve its sound quality, according to the report. A screen could make the Echo more versatile and useful.
The new Echo is reportedly in testing. If all goes well, it could be announced in the first quarter of 2017.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a Fortune request for comment.