Amazon’s Echo, a new virtual assistant that is activated with Alexa, a search and analytics service, can answer questions, play music, order on Amazon, and read audio books out loud.
Originally Alexa was available only on Amazon’s Echo, but now it’s available in Kindles, tablets and other devices.
Even better, Alexa is made for everyone with any app or device. Whereas Siri can only be activated via iPhone or iPad, Amazon is trying to have a more inclusionary approach.
“We’re making the Alexa Skills Kit available to any developer, maker, or general hobbyist that wants to invent on behalf of customers, creating new skills and capabilities”, said Greg Hart, Vice President for Echo and Alexa Voice Services at Amazon.
Apparently, Amazon has invested some money in this. In fact, in seven different companies, of an undisclosed sum - went into a cooking app, fitness gadget, a digital toy, home monitoring system, a garage door controller and voice-controlled car assistant, all powered by Alexa.
Amazon can’t afford another flop like the Fire phone, and actually this was pretty cool.
Already Google made some interesting add-ons, like reading an e-book out loud, and being able to shop on Amazon for you.
Actually, it’s made Apple nervous, because earlier this month, Siri got an upgrade with alot of new Google features.
Not only does Alexa have a way more natural sounding voice than Siri, but she also has a better ability to answer questions that are vague - whereas Siri would need to be asked another question.
Alexa really can answer a lot of questions, “How fast can a cheetah run?”, “How many teaspoons are in a table spoon”, but she can’t really answer questions about music, or give any recommendations - but fair enough, no voice assistant can do that just yet.
The downside is that for now, Echo doesn’t connect to other apps. This is particularly annoying for apps that are already at home and working with the Internet of Things. Siri will manage Apple’s HomeKit, and Cortana controls Insteon.