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 now alexa skills can sell you stuff
now alexa skills can sell you stuff

Alexa is opening up her sales talents to third-party skills, with the virtual assistant now supporting in-skill purchasing and Amazon Pay payments. The features had been in trials for select skill partners, but now anybody building apps for Amazon’s Echo speakers can tap into the functionality. Amazon Pay for Alexa skills integrates the retailer’s payment system into its voice assistant. Amazon has already been using this for its own sales system, which allows Alexa users to re-order products they’ve already bought in the past. Now, third-party merchants can do the same. Unsurprisingly there’s support for physical products being sold via Alexa skills, and companies like 1-800-Flowers and TGI Fridays are already offering that. However, it also supports services and other things, such as eve

100+ alexa skills every echo owner should know about

Christmas has come and gone and the odds are high you received an Echo device; maybe it was the flagship model, maybe it was the smaller Dot or the display-toting Show. Regardless, Alexa is now a resident in your home, and she can get stuff done…if you know how to use her properly. Key to Alexa’s usefulness are her skills, of which she has many, but they’re not all made equal. Find here more than 100 skills every Alexa owner should know about.Note: You can browse and install skills within the Alexa app. Tap the left-hand menu, select “Skills” from the menu, and then tap “Categories” to view skills broken down by category.Travel skillsIf you frequently travel or entertain the idea of traveling, Alexa’s various travel-related skills are great. SkyScanner, for example, allows Echo owners to a

guidemaster: everything amazon’s alexa can do, plus the best skills to enable

EnlargeShare this storyIf you've just introduced one of Amazon's Echo devices into your home and feel a little lost, you're not alone. The promises made by Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa are vast, and it's difficult to know where to start when you want Alexa to do something more than set a cooking timer or tell you tomorrow's weather forecast.Aside from Alexa's basic features programmed by Amazon, there are thousands of Alexa skills to choose from; skills are features made by third-party developers that help Alexa do more than just the Amazon-sanctioned basics, and many of them integrate with other services, apps, and products. Each skill has to be enabled in the Alexa mobile app (or from your account on Amazon.com) before Alexa can use it.Enabling a skill is almost like installing an ap

alexa will recommend third-party skills for things it can’t do

It's clear from Kinsella's video that this new behavior is still hit-or-miss, but it does make a lot of sense. If Alexa can't figure out what you need, then surely there's a skill that might. Instead of having users find a skill that might have the answer, Alexa can do most of the heavy lifting in finding an appropriate one.As TechCrunch notes, Google Assistant can already recommend apps to users when the app developers tell Google what kind of actions it can handle. How this works with Alexa and when it will roll out to all users is still unclear, however. When reached for comment, Amazon said, "In limited scenarios, Alexa will suggest skills that may be helpful to answer a customer's question. We are excited for this feature to roll out to more customers over time to help them discover n

amazon alexa is so smart it's stupid

The Amazon Alexa platform is on a roll, now crammed with more than 15,000 “skills,” up from 10,000 in February, as reported by Voicebot. While this sounds amazing, the reality is that the vast majority of Amazon Echo customers don’t know 99.999 percent of those skills exist. Worse, there seems to be no viable way for anyone to discover what all those skills are.So while Amazon keeps fanning the flames with developer outreach like the upcoming Alexa Dev Days, Amazon’s far larger problem is Alexa skill discovery, not skill development.We’ve grown fond of pillorying the typical mobile app for failing to sustain its user’s interest. You know the woeful stats: The average app loses 77 percent of its users within three days of installation, and a whopping 95 percent of its users within 90 days.G

alexa comes to iphone via amazon app in latest update, no echo required

An incoming update for the Amazon app for iOS will add the company’s Alexa voice assistant that was previously limited to the users of its Echo speaker and other Alexa-enabled hardware.Building on the app’s ability to order using your voice, Alexa will act as your assistant while shopping the Amazon app, allowing you to search and reorder items, track your orders, and more. But it will also include most of the other functionality Alexa has to offer.The best 4K & 5K displays for MacYou’ll also be able to use Alexa within the app to start playing music from Amazon Music Unlimited, Prime Music, or songs you’ve purchased, as well as open Kindle books, both of which present a new built-in media player.You’ll also be able to tap into Alexa’s other smarts for getting news, weather and traffic inf

amazon now offers credits to make alexa skills development free

We could be seeing many more Alexa skills launch shortly, as Amazon is rolling out new incentives for developers today. Aimed at making development of Alexa skills more affordable, Amazon will begin offering Amazon Web Services promotional credit to developers who have already published an Alexa Skill. Amazon says that in a lot of cases, this could make development of new Alexa skills entirely free.Right now, a lot of Alexa developers utilize the free tier offered by AWS for development and hosting. That tier affords them one million AWS Lambda requests monthly and 750 hours of Amazon EC2 compute time each month. While that’s enough for some, developers who exceed those limits get charged additional fees.That could potentially make some developers wary of making new Alexa skills, which is

amazon echo and alexa products comparison: which model is best for you

EnlargeValentina PalladinoShare this storyAmazon debuted the original Echo a few years ago, and it raised eyebrows in the tech industry. The Echo is a smart home speaker that houses Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant, an AI helper that helps you complete daily tasks using only your voice. Since its debut, users of all levels of tech prowess have embraced Echo and Alexa, finding practicality in a voice-controlled assistant and all the things it can do.Both Alexa and the Echo have evolved since then to meet the needs of an ever-growing market. After the Echo and Alexa came Google Home with the Google Assistant, the Harman Kardon Invoke with Microsoft's Cortana, and the forthcoming Homepod with Apple's Siri. Amazon has an advantage over all these competitors because it has had the time to devel

amazon echo and alexa products comparison: which model is best for you

EnlargeValentina PalladinoShare this storyAmazon debuted the original Echo a few years ago, and it raised eyebrows in the tech industry. The Echo is a smart home speaker that houses Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant, an AI helper that helps you complete daily tasks using only your voice. Since its debut, users of all levels of tech prowess have embraced Echo and Alexa, finding practicality in a voice-controlled assistant and all the things it can do.Both Alexa and the Echo have evolved since then to meet the needs of an ever-growing market. After the Echo and Alexa came Google Home with the Google Assistant, the Harman Kardon Invoke with Microsoft's Cortana, and the forthcoming Homepod with Apple's Siri. Amazon has an advantage over all these competitors because it has had the time to devel

alexa app finally has a voice

An update for the Alexa app for Android was given an update this morning with support for Alexa voice interaction. This update brings Alexa voice interaction on all Androids, not just a few – all just as long as they have at least Android 4.4 or newer. That’s the basic requirement for the app itself – and was before this update, too.This update brings user support for Alexa skills with voice as well as remote control for connected home devices. The app will bring the ability to ask questions of all sorts – right after the user taps the Alexa button. In the future we’ll expect ways to get to Alexa without having the app open – but for now, the app needs to be front and center to function or respond to voice commands.This update brings on-screen responses for those questions people have for

new alexa blueprints let users make custom skills without knowing any code

EnlargeAmazonShare this storyAmazon just released a new way for Alexa users to customize their experience with the virtual assistant. New Alexa Skill Blueprints allow you to create your own personalized Alexa skills, even if you don't know how to code. These "blueprints" act as templates for making questions, responses, trivia games, narrative stories, and other skills with customizable answers unique to each user. Amazon already has a number of resources for developers to make the new skills they want, but until now, users have had to work within the confines of pre-made Alexa skills.Currently, more than 20 templates are available on the new Alexa Skill Blueprints website, all ready for Alexa users to personalize with their own content. Let's say you want to make a personalized trivia gam

this big amazon echo discount is a one-day-only affair

It’s clear that Amazon wants its Echo line of devices to be the center hub of your smart home, but at $180 for the standard Amazon Echo, the buy-in can be significant. If that $180 price point is more than you want to spend on a smart home speaker, then good news: Amazon has slashed Echo’s price significantly. The bad news is that this is a one-day-only sale, so you need to jump on it if you want to save some cash.For today only, Amazon will sell you a standard Echo for $129.99, shaving $50 off the list price. It should be noted that this sale only applies to the Amazon Echo – the Echo Dot is still $50, while the new Echo View still clocks in at more than $200. That the other two aren’t discounted isn’t all that shocking, as the Echo Dot is already fairly inexpensive and the Echo Show can

alexa blueprints will diy you straight to the dark side

I’m a luddite when it comes to our future AI overlords, but when I saw how fun Amazon Alexa Skill Blueprints were, I gave in. Or at least I expect to give in a little bit. When I’m able to customize Alexa’s responses to my questions, that’s where I change a tune. When I “see how easy it is to create a skill with blueprints,” I sort of lose my mind and go into silly mode. The following video shows users how to create their own Alexa Blueprints. It begins with a simple set of templates, not unlike what’s offered with IFTTT. Where IFTTT connects with all manner of apps and services, Alexa Blueprints is mostly still kept to itself.Each of these new Alexa Skills works with every single Alexa device I’ve got in my home. That means the HTC U11 with Alexa, all Amazon Echo devices, and 3rd-party Al

amazon will pay for popular alexa skills to keep echo's edge

Making skills for voice agents isn’t just a hobby now, with Amazon opening up its wallet for those who make popular skills for Alexa. Intended to encourage developers to adopt Alexa as their virtual assistant platform of choice, the reward will be offered to those making skills in the US, UK, and Germany initially. However, Amazon is playing coy with exactly how much developers might hope to make. It’s also something of a black box on just what construes good “engagement” for an Alexa skill. “We consider a variety of factors to measure customer engagement such as minutes of usage, new customers, recurring customers, customer ratings, and more,” there retailer says in its developer FAQ. Those responsible for making skills themselves get access to metrics like how many unique users they’re g

htc u11 becomes first phone with amazon alexa hot-word support

The HTC U11 on a beach.Share this storyHTC has been promising Amazon Alexa integration for its newest flagship, the U11, since before it hit the market. Two months after release, it has finally arrived. U11 customers can now download the HTC Alexa app to enable the feature.This isn't the first Android phone with Alexa integration (that honor goes to the Huawei Mate 9), but it's the first smartphone to have always-on, hot-word support for Amazon's digital assistant. This allows you to say "Alexa" at any time and have the phone wake up and respond, basically turning it into a portable Echo. You can also trigger Alexa by mapping it to the U11's pressure sensitive side button or by just tapping the app icon.The U11 also supports the Google Assistant hot-word, and both can be enabled at the sam

with new tv and av controls, alexa inches closer to ruling the internet of thing

Alexa‘s abilities when it comes to controlling the devices in your living room just keep on expanding. A few weeks ago, Amazon expanded access to Alexa’s Video Skills API, allowing developers to integrate Alexa into their services and let users find video content though voice commands. Today, Amazon is bolstering the Smart Home API, adding functionality to control devices like TVs, AV receivers, and IR hubs with Alexa.As with all of Alexa’s skills, this will work on any Echo device, be it the Echo Dot, Echo, or Echo Show. Amazon has been working behind the scenes with some manufacturers to be able to show off this new functionality from day one, too. This gives us a taste of what we’re in for now that these features are rolling out to developers working with the Smart Home API.New Alexa sk

amazon is reportedly bringing alexa to businesses soon

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels told Axios in an interview that Alexa "will greatly improve by being exposed to different kinds of statements or conversations." This is because we have different kinds of conversations at work than we do at home. Exposing Alexa to this new type of environment will broaden the virtual assistant's skills and responses.The company has already gotten started on Alexa for Business. Challenges include finding a way for Alexa to integrate with enterprise software, as well as providing a framework for businesses to write custom skills for the voice assistant.Right now, businesses can use Microsoft's virtual assistant Cortana, and it's unclear how this venture will affect Amazon's partnership with Microsoft. The two had previously been working on a way for Alexa and Cortan

how to get gordon ramsay's voice on your echo or alexa device

Gordon Ramsay, foul-mouthed chef and TV star, was one of the celebrities featured in Amazon’s Super Bowl commercial over the weekend. The commercial featured various celebrities offering their voices to fill in for Alexa after she lost her voice. It was a fun look at what Alexa could be like with a different personality, and now you can sort of experience that yourself with a new Gordon Ramsay skill.Before getting too excited, take note: while you can get Gordon Ramsay’s voice on your Alexa, you’re not replacing Alexa’s default voice. Rather, predetermined phrases spoken by Gordon Ramsay are offered in an Alexa skill, equipping Echo devices or other Alexa-equipped gadgets with Ramsay’s unique ability to severely critique food.We’re assuming you already have your Alexa device setup and the

amazon's alexa is coming to a smartphone near you

+5,477
Andrew Myrick Jul 21st, 2017The same week that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service make its way to the HTC U11, Amazon is looking to bring Alexa to the hands of millions more. Yesterday, a few users found a new dialog box within the Amazon app which showed that Alexa was now available for their devices, and a few hours later, Amazon confirmed the changes to TechCrunch.Now, in order for Amazon to bring Alexa into the hands of millions is through one app — the Amazon Shopping application. This makes the most sense as just about everyone (not a literal estimation) already has Amazon installed, therefore, making it easy to bring Alexa to those without an Echo device.The best part is that you aren’t limited by what Alexa can do via the Amazon app. Alexa functions the same way as if you were t

amazon's alexa is coming to a smartphone near you

+5,162
Andrew Myrick Jul 21st, 2017The same week that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service make its way to the HTC U11, Amazon is looking to bring Alexa to the hands of millions more. Yesterday, a few users found a new dialog box within the Amazon app which showed that Alexa was now available for their devices, and a few hours later, Amazon confirmed the changes to TechCrunch.Now, in order for Amazon to bring Alexa into the hands of millions is through one app — the Amazon Shopping application. This makes the most sense as just about everyone (not a literal estimation) already has Amazon installed, therefore, making it easy to bring Alexa to those without an Echo device.The best part is that you aren’t limited by what Alexa can do via the Amazon app. Alexa functions the same way as if you were t

amazon's alexa is coming to a smartphone near you

+5,066
Andrew Myrick Jul 21st, 2017The same week that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service make its way to the HTC U11, Amazon is looking to bring Alexa to the hands of millions more. Yesterday, a few users found a new dialog box within the Amazon app which showed that Alexa was now available for their devices, and a few hours later, Amazon confirmed the changes to TechCrunch.Now, in order for Amazon to bring Alexa into the hands of millions is through one app — the Amazon Shopping application. This makes the most sense as just about everyone (not a literal estimation) already has Amazon installed, therefore, making it easy to bring Alexa to those without an Echo device.The best part is that you aren’t limited by what Alexa can do via the Amazon app. Alexa functions the same way as if you were t

amazon's alexa is coming to a smartphone near you

+4,238
Andrew Myrick Jul 21st, 2017The same week that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service make its way to the HTC U11, Amazon is looking to bring Alexa to the hands of millions more. Yesterday, a few users found a new dialog box within the Amazon app which showed that Alexa was now available for their devices, and a few hours later, Amazon confirmed the changes to TechCrunch.Now, in order for Amazon to bring Alexa into the hands of millions is through one app — the Amazon Shopping application. This makes the most sense as just about everyone (not a literal estimation) already has Amazon installed, therefore, making it easy to bring Alexa to those without an Echo device.The best part is that you aren’t limited by what Alexa can do via the Amazon app. Alexa functions the same way as if you were t

amazon's alexa is coming to a smartphone near you

+5,362
Andrew Myrick Jul 21st, 2017The same week that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service make its way to the HTC U11, Amazon is looking to bring Alexa to the hands of millions more. Yesterday, a few users found a new dialog box within the Amazon app which showed that Alexa was now available for their devices, and a few hours later, Amazon confirmed the changes to TechCrunch.Now, in order for Amazon to bring Alexa into the hands of millions is through one app — the Amazon Shopping application. This makes the most sense as just about everyone (not a literal estimation) already has Amazon installed, therefore, making it easy to bring Alexa to those without an Echo device.The best part is that you aren’t limited by what Alexa can do via the Amazon app. Alexa functions the same way as if you were t

amazon's alexa is coming to a smartphone near you

+3,342
Andrew Myrick Jul 21st, 2017The same week that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service make its way to the HTC U11, Amazon is looking to bring Alexa to the hands of millions more. Yesterday, a few users found a new dialog box within the Amazon app which showed that Alexa was now available for their devices, and a few hours later, Amazon confirmed the changes to TechCrunch.Now, in order for Amazon to bring Alexa into the hands of millions is through one app — the Amazon Shopping application. This makes the most sense as just about everyone (not a literal estimation) already has Amazon installed, therefore, making it easy to bring Alexa to those without an Echo device.The best part is that you aren’t limited by what Alexa can do via the Amazon app. Alexa functions the same way as if you were t

amazon's alexa is coming to a smartphone near you

+5,010
Andrew Myrick Jul 21st, 2017The same week that Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service make its way to the HTC U11, Amazon is looking to bring Alexa to the hands of millions more. Yesterday, a few users found a new dialog box within the Amazon app which showed that Alexa was now available for their devices, and a few hours later, Amazon confirmed the changes to TechCrunch.Now, in order for Amazon to bring Alexa into the hands of millions is through one app — the Amazon Shopping application. This makes the most sense as just about everyone (not a literal estimation) already has Amazon installed, therefore, making it easy to bring Alexa to those without an Echo device.The best part is that you aren’t limited by what Alexa can do via the Amazon app. Alexa functions the same way as if you were t

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