Alexa now includes 10,000 skills which are essentially apps you talk to instead of touch. However, in practice consumers tend to use only a small part of them, with news, games and trivia, reference, lifestyle and weather comprising the majority share. A VoiceLabs research discovered that only 31% of Alexa’s skills have more than one consumer review, which could indicate low interest and use.
For example, shoppers can tell Alexa to “search for paper towels”, “reorder batteries”, “track my last order” or find a “best-selling camera”. Furthermore, the AI assistant can play music from Amazon Music Unlimited, Prime Music or purchased music and stream Kindle books by giving instructions such as “play the Beatles” or “play dance music”. In addition, it can provide answers to basic questions such as “when is Memorial Day?”, “who is Abraham Lincoln?” or “tell me a joke”. Other tasks the voice assistant can carry out are updates on news, the weather by adding the address to the Alexa app, as well as traffic by setting starting point and destination. With increased customer usage Alexa can adapt more and more to speech patterns, vocabulary and personal preferences.
“We had this inspiration of the Star Trek computer,” says Steve Rabuchin, director of Alexa voice services and skills at Amazon. “What would it be like if we could create a voice assistant out of the cloud that you could just talk to naturally, that could control things around you, that could do things for you, that could get you information?”