Alexa is growing up right before our eyes. That was the takeaway from Amazon’s Alexa Live developer event that took place earlier this week.
The giant tech company announced a handful of new Alexa features mostly aimed at developers. This is a good thing for us normal folks though because devs are the people pushing this space forward, which makes the end-user experience much better. In fact, the overall goal of the announcements this week is to do exactly that: make Alexa easier to use.
Below are the main takeaways from the event:
Routines: One of the biggest changes will be how Alexa handles Routines. Moving forward developers will be able to create and recommend routines rather than users being required to build their own. Imagine if a car like the Buick, which has Alexa built-in, could start playing the song below every time it needed gas, find the closest station, and navigate there? We joke a little, but how great would that be?
Interoperability: Um, what? Interoperability is a fancy word for giving computer systems and software, like Alexa, the ability to exchange information with one another. The goal is to make devices work with each other more seamlessly. So for example, the headphone company Skullcandy is Amazon’s newest partner. Now you’ll be able to speak to your headphones either by saying “Alexa” or “Hey Skullcandy.”
Universal Commands: This new feature, similar to interoperability, will allow Alexa-running devices to do things no matter which wake word is used. Meaning, if you say, “Hey Skullcandy, set a timer for 10 minutes,” but your headphones can’t do that, Alexa can handle it. The focus here will be on timers and rejections.
Revenue Share: This is a big one. The only way that devs are going to want to work on these things (and find the bugs that inevitably arise) is by incentivizing them. Amazon will be changing its revenue-sharing agreement as a result. Now devs will keep 80% of their revenue instead of 70%.
The end goal of these updates is to create a voice assistant that doesn’t need as much assistance. Amazon is attempting to create ways for developers to weave the technology deeper into our lives with minimal effort from the consumer standpoint.