Who knew from the outset that Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and its underlying Alexa voice assistant would become this popular and have such a huge backing from the developer community? But as Amazon’s Alexa Skill Kit, Alexa Voice Service and Alexa Fund turn a year old, we’re seeing even more greatness added to the platform.
Amazon today announced that it has enabled functionality that makes adding new Skills to your Echo incredibly simple. All you have to do is say “Alexa, enable NBC News” and you have instant access to the Skill. Or, you could say “Alexa, enable Beer Trivia” to help get your drinking game on.
While it’s always been possible to navigate to the Alexa mobile app, search for a new Skill and then enable it, this takes a few steps out of the process and give us a glimpse into a more hands-off, voice-controlled vision of the future.
There are now over 1,400 Alexa Skills, including two from big name companies that were released today: Honeywell and Lyft. Remarkably, the number of Alexa Skills has increased fivefold since January 2016, and by nearly 50 percent in just the past month. And according to Amazon, a few of its most popular Skills include Jeopardy!, Daily Affirmation, Magic 8 Ball, Fitbit, and The Bartender.
“We are thrilled that tens of thousands of developers are already building skills for Alexa, helping to grow our Alexa skill selection by 50% in just over a month,” said Alexa VP Steve Rabuchin. “This is a win for developers and for customers, and we can’t wait to hear what they think.”
With over 10,000 developers devoting resources to the Alexa Voice Service, the platform has a fruitful future ahead of it. And given that Echo has recently been joined by its Echo Dot and Tap counterparts, the future on the hardware front looks strong as well (not to mention third-party hardware support).