Amazon planning for smaller Echo speaker
The next-gen Amazon Echo speaker to be released in the coming weeks Amazon

Amazon is planning to release a smaller and portable variant of its Echo speaker in the coming weeks. The new device codenamed "Fox" is expected to come with a lower price tag than the original model which is priced at $180 (£125), in order to attract more consumers.

The 9.25in cylinder shaped original Echo speaker was unveiled in November 2014. It hears the user's voice from across the room even when playing music. All you need to do is just say "Alexa", which is a cloud-based voice service. It provides information, answers questions, plays music, reads the news and checks scores or the weather.

Sources familiar with the matter have told the Wall Street Journal that the next iteration of the voice-activated speaker Fox is designed to fit in the user's palm, "like a beer can". It reminds one of Apple's Beat Pill speaker, which rests horizontally while Amazon's version rests vertically.

The new speaker can be charged on a docking station and responds to voice commands by pressing a button. Singapore-based Flextronics International is expected to be Amazon's manufacturing partner for the new speaker model.

Amazon Echo, initially failed to grab enough attention, with some consumers finding it difficult to get more out of the Alexa software. Eventually, the company received positive reviews about the device's personal assistant functionality as well as its powerful microphones. Amazon's product page for the Echo suggests that the device has got more than 30,000 reviews with 4.3 out of five stars.

It incorporates features such as traffic and weather reports, Yelp restaurant recommendation, streaming music services and home automations. Amazon has already started using the Alexa software in other devices.

At the CES 2016 in Las Vegas, Amazon announced a partnership with Ford, as the car maker seeks to explore linking smart devices including Amazon Echo and Wink to its vehicles that will let users control lights, thermostats, security systems and other features of their home from their car. Ford is also planning to use Sync Connect technology to link vehicles with Alexa that would allow consumers to access their vehicles from inside their home.