What is Alexa?
In the simplest of terms, Alexa is Amazon’s virtual voice assistant that is built into devices such as the Amazon Echo. The Echo itself is a speaker with a microphone built-in. Alexa is also the engine that drives all of the Echo and Alexa devices. If you’re an Apple person, Alexa is to Amazon as Siri is to Apple. Going a little deeper, Alexa is the brain behind Echo and array of Alexa enabled devices offered by Amazon.
Using Alexa is wicked simple. Just say the wake word, which is Alexa by default, ask your question or state your command, and Alexa will respond instantly. Alexa’s brain exists in the cloud with constant updates making it more intelligent, and updates are delivered to your devices automatically. Alexa will provide answers to most questions you ask. For instance, you can ask Alexa, “what is the weather today in Detroit?” and Amazon’s virtual assistant will reply with the current conditions and what to expect throughout the day.
More than a Talking Search Engine
Fear not, Amazon’s virtual voice assistant is not a one trick pony. Using Alexa is as simple as asking a question. Just ask to play music, read the news, control your smart home, tell a joke, and more—Alexa will respond instantly. Regardless of whether you’re at home or out on the road, Alexa is designed to make your life easier…by letting you voice-control your world. Here’s a quick rundown of the major ways that Alexa simplifies your day-to-day happenings
Music & Entertainment
Amazon states that Alexa provides hands-free voice control for music and entertainment. You can listen to music from services like Amazon Music, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio & Spotify Premium. If you’re a Prime member, you already have access to over two million songs on Alexa with Prime Music—and you can ask for music in a number of ways, some of which include by genre, mood, or era. The multi-room music feature allows you to can play music across multiple Echo devices at the same time (Bluetooth not supported for multi-room music).
Calling & Messaging
A new way to be together with family and friends. You can use your supported Echo device or the Alexa App on your supported mobile phone or tablet to call or message almost anyone—for free. If you have your hands are occupied making dinner, just ask Alexa to place a call to your beloved Mom, or dreaded mother-in-law, or send a quick voice message to a friend. You can also enable Drop In for when to instantly connect with other Echo devices in your home, or your closest family and friends.
News & Information
Alexa comes up huge and helps you stay up to date with the news that you care about. Flash Briefing allows you tailor a personalized lineup of updates from news sources like NPR, CNN, Fox News, and CNET. If you have gone ahead and set up a voice profile through your account, Alexa recognizes your voice & can catch you up on the latest without repeating old news.
Questions & Answers
Alexa can get you answers—fast. Alexa taps into Yelp to provide you with info on local restaurants, shops, and other businesses. The voice assistant also makes a great calculator and dictionary and gets fast facts on all types of topics.
Help Around the House
Alexa makes your home life easier—so you can spend more time on the things that matter to you. Alexa has you covered if you’re cooking in the kitchen, snoozing in the bedroom, or chainging the oil in the garage – Alexa can keep an eye on the clock.
Alexa is Amazon’s voice service and the brain behind millions of devices like the Amazon Echo. Alexa provides capabilities, or skills, that enable customers to create a more personalized experience. You can make use of Alexa and control smart home devices such as cameras, door locks, entertainment systems, lighting, and thermostats. Alexa lets you control smart-home devices such as lights, switches, thermostats and more. Forget the age-old “clap-on” devices of the stone age, simply instruct Alexa to switch on the lamp without getting out of bed, turn on the fan or space heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie—all without breaking a sweat. With Echo Show or Echo Spot, you can also see live video feeds from compatible smart cameras without opening an app on your phone.
Personalize your Alexa device experience. Skills are like apps for Alexa. Whether you want to play games, discover new workouts, request an Uber ride, or order pizza from Domino’s—Alexa has over 40,000 skills, across 20 categories to help make your life easier and more fun. No need to download or install.
Alexa Voice Service
Okay, big deal…Alexa can tell you the current weather conditions and provide a forecast as well. For real though, what exactly is Alexa? When you ask Alexa a question, what you’re doing is communicating with a cloud-based service. Amazon has designed the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to mimic real conversations, but you’re actually using intuitive voice commands to get this service to perform specific tasks. The term “Alexa” is both the name of the AI engine inside voice assistants and the “wake word” that cues the service to start listening to your voice. For most devices, you just have to say it to get a response. Not to push the envelope too far, but one has to wonder how far Amazon is from putting Alexa up against the Turing Test.
Amazon states that the ultimate goal of the Alexa Voice Service is to “create meaningful user experiences for an endless variety of use cases with Alexa Voice Service (AVS), Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service. AVS includes a full range of features, including smart home control, streaming music content, news, timers, and more, and can be added to any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.”
Create meaningful user experiences for an endless variety of use cases with Alexa Voice Service (AVS), Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service. AVS includes a full range of features, including smart home control, streaming music content, news, timers, and more, and can be added to any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.