Those who suffer from button fatigue will welcome the news that Amazon’s Alexa has now come to iPhones. This follows a year in which Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft and Google have all sought to enhance and expand their voice offerings.
Like the Echo version, Alexa for iOS can control smart home devices, pull up playlists, answer questions and facilitate commerce.
For some questions, such as weather forecasts or movie times, Alexa can pull-up supplemental on-screen materials.
It is almost entirely a hands-free experience. Almost, but not quite. At present Alexa does not come pre-programmed with, for instance, wake words. Just saying ‘Hey Alexa’ won’t work.
Instead you need to open the Alexa app and manually tap a button to wake Alexa. This in contrast to Siri, which can be woken with a simple command.
Despite continuous rumours that Amazon will move into the mobile market, this latest move is seen as the best way for Amazon to expand its mobile footprint. Unlike Google, Samsung or Apple, Alexa is considered far superior as it is the only voice AI with a mobile phone ecosystem.
This was Alexa’s second big news after Amazon announced it had partnered with the giant hotel chain, Marriott International. Alexa can now act as the hotel’s AI concierge helping guests order room service or housekeeping without the need to pick up the phone.
According to sources Marriott experimented with both Alexa and Apple’s Siri and favoured Alexa. Although the hotel chain would not go into details on its findings.
Alexa skills go unused
At the last official count Amazon estimated that Alexa had 30,000 skills but the reality was that most go unused.
While we are happy to use Alexa to listen to music, check the weather and manage our calendars, other uses are ignored. Ever considered using those vital services such as My Spirit Animal, Poem Skill or the I’m Poor Skill?
According to Amazon’s findings just 10% of UK consumers use Alexa for commercial reasons. Apparently, in contrast, there were a large number of questions to Alexa as to how to boil an egg.
Many commentators believe this will change as the voice activated market becomes mature.
It has been just seven years since Siri arrived. And a recent survey by Voicebot found that 19.7% of adults in the US had access to a smart speaker up from just 1% a mere two years ago.
The survey found that it took only three years to hit 50 million users in the US. In contrast television took 13 years, the internet four years and Facebook two.