Amazon is gradually transforming Alexa into a fully automated virtual assistant

Amazon is making a bunch of changes to the Alexa user experience, all with the same idea in mind: to make the virtual assistant easier to use. Amazon unveiled a slew of new Alexa-focused developer features as part of its annual Alexa conference — and some could dramatically change the way we interact with the automaker’s connected home devices.

Designed to improve the real-world use of Alexa-powered products, like those in Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo Show ranges, the updates include the ability to implement multiple voice services on certain devicesa series of functions to purchase products more seamlessly by Alexa, and easier configuration of Alexa devices.

Soon, for example, you’ll be able to ask Alexa a slew of more targeted questions about buying products specifically promoted by developers building Alexa Skills, including “What are Amazon’s reviews?” “, ” How much does it cost ? or “When can it be delivered?” “. Why would developers do this? Some might earn commissions on products that Amazon customers buy through the system.

In addition, Amazon announced a new SDK — Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) SDK for Matter (the new connected home standard supported by Amazon, Apple, Google and others) to simplify the development process for device manufacturers. devices. Device manufacturers using ACK SDK for Matter will also be able to take advantage of Frustration-Free Setup (FSS). FFS for Matter will allow customers to add Matter-compliant connected home devices to Alexa with a zero-touch experiencewhere devices are automatically connected to the network, and configuration can begin as soon as the device is powered on.

Amazon also announced a partnership with audio maker Skullcandy at its recent developer conference. The two companies have teamed up to allow owners of the latter brand’s upcoming Push Active and Grind Series headphones to use “Alexa” and “Hey Skullcandy” commands interchangeably — a partnership that bodes well for the devices’ future. multi-assistant.

Work for the developers

These updates aren’t the first new Alexa Skills to be announced in 2022, either. At the annual re:March of this year, Amazon revealed a decidedly creepy skill that gives Alexa the ability to mimic voice. other people, and a few months ago the popular voice assistant learned to respond and perform actions without needing to hear the “Hey Alexa” command.

Amazon told us that some of these Alexa developer tools, like the Alexa Shopping Kit and Alexa Skill Deals, are available to developers now. Others will be available soon.

If Amazon can make all of this work, it will have taken a step towards solving one of the main problems with voice assistants: it’s hard to know what they can do, so most users choose defaults to music, lights and timers, meaning developers have no reason to invest in the platform, meaning users don’t have to do anything.

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