The Amazon Echo and Alexa-enabled family continues to grow with new devices and new partnerships, but is the retail giant focused on the right advancements?
The Amazon Echo – an industry-changing device – is a great addition to many homes. There are some security concerns (as there are with pretty much any and every piece of personal technology), but there are also so many practical and convenient applications for the technology that can’t be denied. From parents to single people to pet owners to those living long-distance from their friends and family, the Echo devices make it easy and simple to stay connected, feel safe, and save time.
As any device, though, it is not perfect.
While Amazon’s inclusive platform means that there is an open door for innovative progress, it also means that there are a lot of options for skills, and a lot of different, but specific, ways to interact with these skills. Much like the Apple app store, which seems endless, Alexa has skills for everything. At least with a phone app, you just find it in your cluttered catalog of apps and tap it to open it. You have that visual queue as a reminder. With Echo and Alexa, however, you have “upgraded” to hands-free and are, I don’t know, I guess just supposed to remember every skill you have activated, along with the right wake and interaction commands.
This has been a big thorn in many Echo users’ sides. I mean, this device is supposed to make our lives easier but now I have more stuff to remember? No way.
Luckily for us, Amazon is working on improving the user experience as much as they are working on expanding their presence in the smart home world.
Bear with me here, because this is where things get “techy.” So, on the backend, Amazon is making a new feature available to the people that develop Alexa skills. This feature (though still in beta) will allow developers to expand the types of requests that their skill can fulfill, which will result in allowing some room for vagueness in the trigger and interaction commands from the end users. So, instead of having to use a very specific phrase to activate your desired skill, you can give a command that is related to the skill. The feature that Amazon is launching is what will work on the backend to search through all your enabled skills to find those that relate to your inquiry.
This might sound like small update, but it is going to be invaluable in my home. It will mean that I have less to remember and can still get the results I want with just a few key words – like say, “Alexa, let’s play a memory game” instead of “Alexa, launch [insert skill name]” – and it also means that Alexa will have an easier time returning the right results. Less stress and fuss trying to get what you want from your smart home assistant truly will prove to be a…wait for it…smart move.