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It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news. Users can extend the Alexa capabilities by installing "skills" additional functionality developed by third-party vendors, in other settings more commonly called apps such as weather programs and audio features.
Most devices with Alexa allow users to activate the device using a wake-word such as Echo ; other devices such as the Amazon mobile app on iOS or Android require the user to push a button to activate Alexa's listening mode. Currently, interaction and communication with Alexa are only available in English, German and Japanese.
In November , Alexa became available in the Canadian market in English only. As of September , Amazon had more than 5, employees working on Alexa and related products. In November , Amazon announced Alexa alongside the Echo. The Original Series and Star Trek: The name Alexa was chosen due to the fact that it has a hard consonant with the X and therefore could be recognized with higher precision.
The name is also claimed to be reminiscent of the Library of Alexandria , which is also used by Amazon Alexa Internet for the same reason. In January , the first Alexa Conference took place in Nashville, Tennessee, an independent gathering of the worldwide community of Alexa developers and enthusiasts.
At the Amazon Web Services Re: Invent conference in Las Vegas, Amazon announced Alexa for Business and the ability for app developers to have paid add-ons to their skills. The app can be used by owners of Alexa-enabled devices to install skills, control music, manage alarms, and view shopping lists.
It also allows users to review the recognized text on the app screen and to send feedback to Amazon concerning whether the recognition was good or bad. A web interface is also available to set up compatible devices e. Alexa can manage voice-controlled alarms, timers, and shopping and to-do lists, and can access Wikipedia articles. As of November , the Alexa Appstore had over 5, functions "skills" available for users to download,  up from 1, functions in June This functionality was said to come later in ;  although as of April , is still not available.
In March , Amazon rolled out a new "Brief Mode," wherein Alexa would begin responding with a beep sound rather than saying, "Okay," to confirm receipt of a command. Alexa supports a multitude of subscription-based and free streaming services on Amazon devices.
These streaming services include: However, some of these music services are not available on other Alexa-enabled products that are manufactured by companies external of its services. This unavailability also includes Amazon's own Fire TV devices or tablets. Alexa is able to stream media and music directly. To do this, Alexa's device should be linked to the Amazon account, which enables access to one's Amazon Music library, in addition to any audiobooks available in one's Audible library.
Amazon Prime members have an additional ability to access stations, playlists, and over two million songs free of charge. Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers also have access to a list of millions of songs. This can be done by uploading one's collection to My Music on Amazon from a computer.
Up to songs can be uploaded free of charge. Once this is done, Alexa can play this music and control playback through voice command options. Alexa allows the user to hear updates on supported sports teams. A way to do this is by adding the sports team to the list created under Alexa's Sports Update app section.
The user is able to hear updates on up to 15 supported teams: There are a number of ways messages can be sent from Alexa's application. Alexa is able to deliver messages to a recipient's Alexa application, as well as to all of their Echo devices that are both supported and associated with their Amazon account. Alexa is able to send typed messages only from Alexa's app. If one sends a message from an associated Echo device, it will be sent as a voice message.
Alexa cannot send attachments such as videos and photos. For households with more than one member, one's Alexa contacts are pooled across all of the devices that are registered to its associated account. However, within Alexa's app one is only able to start conversations with its Alexa contacts. These messages can be heard by anyone with access in the household. This messaging feature does not yet contain a password protection or associated PIN. Anyone who has access to one's cell phone number is able to use this feature to contact them through their supported Alexa app or Echo device.
The feature to block alerts for messages and calls is available temporarily by utilizing the Do Not Disturb feature. Alexa for Business is a paid subscription service allowing companies to use Alexa to join conference calls, schedule meeting rooms, and custom skills designed by 3rd-party vendors.
Amazon allows developers to build and publish skills for Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit. Users can enable these skills using the Alexa app. A "Smart Home Skill API" is available, meant to be used by hardware manufacturers to allow users to control smart home devices.
In April , Amazon launched Blueprints, a tool for individuals to build skills for their personal use. Amazon allows device manufacturers to integrate Alexa voice capabilities into their own connected products by using the Alexa Voice Service AVS , a cloud-based service that provides APIs to interface with Alexa. There are no fees for companies looking to integrate Alexa into their products by using AVS.
The voice of Amazon Alexa is generated by a long short-term memory artificial neural network. On November 30, Amazon announced that they will make the speech recognition and natural language processing technology behind Alexa available for developers under the name of Amazon Lex. This new service would allow developers to create their own chatbots that can interact in a conversational manner, similar to Alexa.
Along with the connection to various Amazon services, the initial version will provide connectivity to Facebook Messenger , with Slack and Twilio integration to follow. There are concerns about the access Amazon has to private conversations in the home and other non-verbal indications that can identify who is present in the home with non-stop audio pick-up from Alexa-enabled devices. The device is technically capable of streaming voice recordings at all times, and in fact will always be listening to detect if a user has uttered the wake word unless muted.
Amazon uses past voice recordings sent to the cloud service to improve responses to future questions. Users can delete voice recordings that are associated with their account. To delete these recordings, the user can visit the History tab in the Alexa app or contact Amazon customer service. Alexa uses an address stored in the companion app when it needs a location. Similarly, Alexa uses the user's location for mapping-related requests. Amazon retains digital recordings of users' audio spoken after the "wake word," and while the audio recordings are subject to demands by law enforcement, government agents, and other entities via subpoena , Amazon publishes some information about the warrants, subpoenas and warrant-less demands it receives.
In , Too Many T's , a hip hop group from London received international media attention by being the first artists to feature Amazon Alexa as rapper and singer. As of February , Alexa is available in 38 countries.
In September , a university student competition called the Alexa Prize was announced for November of that year. The process started with team selection in The University of Washington student team was awarded first place for the prize. By specifically targeting developers, device-makers and innovative companies of all sizes, Amazon aims at making digital voice assistants more powerful for its users.
The final selection of companies originates from the customer perspective and works backwards, specific elements that are considered for potential investments are: Besides financial support, Amazon provides business and technology expertise, help for bringing products to the market, aid for hard- and software development as well as enhanced marketing support on proprietary Amazon platforms.
The list of funded business includes in alphabetical order: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the subsidiary company of Amazon, see Alexa Internet. This article possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed.
December Learn how and when to remove this template message. United States , and right to privacy. Retrieved 6 June Retrieved 15 November Retrieved 2 September The New York Times.
Retrieved 12 July Focusing on cadence and an accent that would suggest 'smart, humble, helpful,' the team tested voices that a diverse population would respond to.
Reid said, but why end there? Retrieved 27 June Retrieved 16 November Retrieved 27 February Puget Sound Business Journal. What does Amazon Echo have to do with shopping? Retrieved 17 November Retrieved 21 October Retrieved 5 November Retrieved 20 November Retrieved 5 August Microsoft and Amazon's first-of-its-kind collaboration". Retrieved 30 August