Alexa is the brain behind the Amazon Echo, and has helped Amazon become a leader in the voice assistant market, and now she is making her way to smartphones.
Starting today, and rolling out to all iPhone users next week, Alexa will be integrated into Amazon’s main shopping app. Users will be able to use voice commands to shop, check progress of packages, play music, ask questions, keep tabs on the weather and traffic and communicate with Alexa-linked smart devices.
An Amazon spokesperson said Alexa on the Amazon app will be available on Android devices but didn’t give an exact date.
Before, the main way to use Alexa on a smartphone was through a separate Alexa app that lets users add skills and interact with their Echoes. That app tracks voice search activity for the Echo but doesn’t have any voice interaction capability of its own.
Amazon has an early lead in the voice assistant market, thanks to Alexa and her more than 10,000 skills. Amazon’s lead is notable in part because it doesn’t have the advantage of launching Alexa on its own smartphone. But the online retail giant is making up for that, and challenging smartphone voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and others, by adding Alexa to its app.
Alexa’s proliferation can be partially attributed to Amazon’s decision to open the digital brain up to developers and device manufacturers in 2015. Alexa Voice Service lets manufacturers integrate Alexa into their products. The Alexa Skills Kit encourages third-party developers to build skills 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.