If only we could all learn as many skills as quickly as Alexa.
The digital brain behind Amazon’s Echo and Dot smart speakers has surpassed 3,000 skills — capabilities added by third-party developers — triple the amount available in June, the company said Tuesday.
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With her newest batch of skills, Alexa can now read tweets, send recipes from the Food Network show you’re watching, find a lost cell phone and talk to appliances. Alexa can be your travel agent (Alexa, ask Kayak where can I fly for $300) or your personal nutritionist (Alexa, ask Food Tracker how many calories are in a slice of cheese pizza).
Soon Alexa will be able to give Yahoo fantasy football updates, stock quotes and daily pregnancy updates and tips.
Last year Amazon opened up Alexa to developers, and the company said 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, letting the smart assistant do the heavy lifting of understanding and deciphering spoken commands.
“When we launched the Alexa Skills Kit over a year ago, our goal was to enable developers to build compelling voice experiences for Alexa customers,” Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon’s Alexa division, said in a statement. “The response from both developers and customers has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re excited for what’s ahead.”
Amazon also started a $100 million fund to invest in companies that will push the boundaries of voice-based interaction. So far, Amazon said, this fund has invested in 16 startups, mostly focused on smart home and wearable products. In the next year, the fund’s scope will expand to include areas like robotics, developer tools, healthcare and accessibility.