March 17, 2017
Starting this week, Amazon has begun rolling out a new feature to its mobile iOS shopping app that adds the Alexa powered voice assistant to it. Prior to the update, the Amazon app voice search feature only allowed users to seek out items to purchase, but will now expand to all available controls. From streaming Kindle books, to arming your security devices, the popular virtual assistant will now be even more accessible to those without an Echo device.
In the updated app, Alexa will be accessible in the search bar by pressing on the mic icon. From there, you can use voice commands using the skills you’ve set in the standard Alexa app. This means that for those without an existing device, you will need both apps to gain the most out of the AI system.
Will this be a game changer for those currently using Siri? Certainly not, just as Microsoft’s Cortana didn’t dethrone her. Due to Apple’s hands-free voice activation and user general adoption, neither voice assistant will take place of Siri; however, with so many smart devices and platforms adopting Alexa integrations, this new app feature will likely result in added users.
Earlier this week, Amazon and iRobot also announced a new Alexa integration with the popular automated Roomba vacuums. Through the new integration set to launch in Q2 of 2017, Roomba 900 Series owners will be able to command their own little robot army through simple voice commands. More specifically, you will now be able to tell your robot vacuum cleaner to start, stop, and pause cleaning.
New to Alexa? Start Here
If you don’t currently have an Echo or Dot, but use Amazon’s shopper app, now is the time to check out Alexa. To make the most of it, follow these quick steps:
- Start by downloading the Alexa app.
- Add some skills (your flash brief or choice of music streaming platform is a good start)
- Open up the Amazon Shopper App and hit the mic icon
- Say “What is my flash brief” or “Play my kindle book”
- From there, Alexa will read you your selected news briefings or read the last book you were reading on the Kindle app.
If you want to mix things up a bit, try these commands to see what Alexa can really do!
- What is the value of Pi?
- What is the temperature?
- What is the meaning of life?
- Tell me a joke
- Define Tacos
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