Amazon’s Alexa is coming to its Fire tablets, giving users quick access to the voice-enabled virtual assistant, and positioning the company to compete more directly with Apple’s Siri virtual assistant for the iPad.
The Seattle tech giant announced today that Alexa will become available on four of its tablets: the Fire, the Fire HD 10, the current Fire HD 8, and the new Fire HD 8 that Amazon unveiled today. The feature will roll out via a software update in the “coming months.”
This is the first time Amazon has embedded the digital assistant in its tablets. Alexa was initially available on Amazon’s popular Echo device, and arrived on the Fire TV one year ago. Users will be able to long-press the home button on a Fire tablet that is connected to WiFi to activate Alexa, and then have the voice assistant answer questions, play music, read the news, tell jokes, and more. Alexa’s answers will combine with on-screen information on the tablets.
Amazon is slowly putting Alexa into more of its own devices — the Echo, the Tap, the Dot, the Fire TV, and now the tablets — as well as those made by other hardware makers, such as the Triby smart speaker. Amazon is in talks with Lenovo to put Alexa on PCs and other products. Companies such as Lowe’s and Sonos are also integrating their devices with Alexa via the Echo smart speaker.
Last year Amazon opened up Alexa to developers, and now tens of thousands of them are working on skills and projects for Alexa. Developers who want to add to Alexa’s abilities can write code that works with Alexa in the cloud. Alexa has more than 2,000 third-party skills, extending the capabilities of the virtual assistant.
The smart speaker market is expected to more than triple to $5.5 billion worldwide over the next four years. Competitors such as Microsoft (Cortana) and Apple (Siri) are also looking to get their digital assistants on as many devices as possible.