Alexa is a voice-controlled virtual assistant. She can play audio, control your smart home, answer questions and engage your favorite services to keep you organized, informed, safe, connected and entertained. As a product of Amazon, she’s also your personal shopper.
Based in the cloud, Alexa is accessed through a growing number of smart speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices.
The birth of Alexa.
Alexa was inspired by science fiction: According to David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president who oversaw the initiative, Alexa creators aimed to reinvent the conversational computer onboard Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise. She made her debut in 2014 alongside the Echo smart speaker.
In addition to suitable phonetics, Alexa’s name intends to evoke Egypt’s Ancient Library of Alexandria.
What can Alexa do?
Alexa is like the software that powers your smartphone, but instead of apps, she uses “skills.” Like your smartphone, Alexa includes many skills out-of-the-box, while others can be enabled by choice. Amazon’s skills collection already exceeds 25,000, including many from brands you use frequently. That collection grows by the day.
Among Alexa’s most popular capabilities, she can:
- Play music
- Report the news
- Check the weather
- Offer sports updates
- Play podcasts
- Stream live radio
- Control your smart home
- Manage your lists and calendars
- Call phones and other Alexa-enabled devices
- Set timers and alarms
- Play audiobooks
- Find local business information
- Answer questions
- Do math
- Tell stories
- Administer games
- Tell jokes
- Summon a ride
- Order dinner
- Find recipes
- Teach history lessons
- Shop on Amazon
Make Alexa yours.
To make Alexa your digital assistant, you’ll need an Alexa-enabled device, where you’ll issue commands. For most current users, that’s a smart speaker, such as Amazon’s own line of Echo devices.
You’ll configure, personalize and manage Alexa in the companion app, available in the Apple, Google Play and Amazon app stores. It’s also available as a web app at alexa.amazon.com.
Among a variety of other administrative tasks, the app allows you to:
- Pair Alexa with Alexa-controlled devices
- Set your default services, such as your preferred calendar and music-streaming services, and link associated accounts
- See and manage your lists, alarms, reminders and timers
- View your skills and enable new ones
- Group speakers for Multi-Room Audio, and smart home devices for bulk control
- Assemble your flash briefing
Digital assistants are poised to follow the smartphone as the next great technological phenomenon. Alexa was the first significant entrant into the market, and her head start remains advantageous as the likes of Google (Google Assistant), Apple (Siri), Microsoft (Cortona) and Samsung (Bixby) play catch-up.
Amid the rapid adoption of digital assistants, smart speakers can now be found in more than 7% of American homes. Analysts expect that number to grow tenfold by 2020—just two years from now. Meanwhile, Alexa’s share of that market remains above 70%.
And her footprint is globalizing: In December, 2017, Amazon announced a major international expansion in which Echo devices would enter 80 new countries. Following the 2017 holiday season, Amazon had sold tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices from the Echo family.
Despite their nascency, digital assistants are already influencing behavioral shifts. In a survey by Dashbot, nearly 75% of respondents reported to use a voice assistant at least once daily, with nearly 60% using one more than once. Only 20% said their assistants had no impact on their behavior or daily routines.
Those mounting behavior shifts present threats and opportunities to businesses across industries. Already, 40% of millennials make purchases via voice assistants, and more than half will do so by 2020.
As the adoption of Alexa accelerates, so too will her technological advancement. Eager to capitalize on shifting consumer behaviors and an emerging market, more companies will develop skills, thus enhancing the Alexa experience and fueling her development.
Alexa is advancing by the day. It’s her captivating evolutionary journey that inspired The Assistant, and we’re thrilled for you to join us.