Amazon has announced a number of improvements to Alexa – no new hardware, but a number of enhancements.
- Alexa usage has quadrupled over the last two years
- Alexa Conversations, now in beta, allows for follow ups and more “give and take” conversations.
- More “multi-modal” interactions – using Alexa as an audio, visual and tactile tool.
- Alexa for Apps, which is the ability to launch Android and iOS apps using voice commands
- The chipset and backend support by Amazon for developers is down to $4, designed to make it easier to deploy products.
While I’m on voice, Pandora is expanding its voice control feature with the beta launch of voice-activated ads.
Why do we care?
I remain bullish on voice. The hardware investment is now quite low, and the idea has never been to make every device have a microphone, but instead to interact with the ecosystem. The price drop is substantial – it was $7 before.
Amazon is being creative with their solution to device interaction – because they can’t put the assistant on people’s phones, they are allowing the rest of the ecosystem to then interact with the phone. It’s clever – we will see if it’s adopted.
Making the voice assistant leverage multiple modes as well gives options for developers. Now it’s about use cases and implementation. I’m certainly interested in this space – I think there is opportunity for builders, but more importantly, for those implementers.