Today marks Amazon’s Alexa Live, the event that’s fully dedicated to Alexa with the unveiling of new updates and content for Alexa Developers. It’s a great opportunity to peek into Amazon’s plans for Alexa, while also getting a glimpse into the future of Voice Assistants—including with competitors, like Siri and Google Assistant.
This year the conference is completely online. Anyone can join and watch Alexa Live for free. But if you didn’t have time to tune into the event (after all, it started at noon on a Wednesday), I got you covered. Here are my highlights from the keynote.
Alexa Engagement Up 400% in the Last Two Years
An impressive increase, but no big surprise here, especially with the pandemic going on. Voice Assistants are the future, and I expect this to only increase going forward.
Alexa Supports 100,000+ Smart Home devices from 9,500+ Brands
Newer and better Smart Home devices and categories continue to increase, pilling onto shelves as an alarming rate with Alexa adding more and more support. Nothing too surprising here, but the numbers are staggering. But really, finding quality smart devices with over 100,000 options is a tough job for anyone.
Amazon Focuses on Alexa Skills
If there’s one takeaway from the keynote, it’s this: Amazon is heavily focused on improving Alexa Skills. To support this, Amazon announced several new tools to help improve Alexa Skills.
As a refresher, skills are how Alexa gets new functionality and how third-parties can add new features to Alexa. Simply put: the easier it is to make skills, the smarter Alexa becomes—and fast. The challenge here for users like me and you is in finding quality Alexa Skills. User Discoverability is getting harder, not easier, as the market continues to grow.
Expect Alexa to get better at conversations
Understanding context within a conversation is a challenge for all Voice Assistants. For example, Alexa and competitors have problems remembering what was recently said or what you might be referring to.
Amazon focuses on tackling this problem with introducing new tools for better conversations. This is a huge improvement and signals the future of where Voice Assistants are headed, as conversations are how we really communicate—not through simple commands. If Amazon changes this current dynamic to lend itself more to natural conversations, this could be a big win.
Expect Alexa Skill names to become less important
Amazon looks to make activating Alexa Skills easier. If you’ve already enabled more than a handful of skills, then you know it’s tough to remember the names of each. So rather than remember the name, remember what the skill does, like saying “puzzle game” instead of the official “Words with Friends.”
Expect Alexa to remember what skills you’ve recently used
This update sounds really promising. Essentially, Alexa will remember what skills you’ve recently used and can easily jump back and forth between a handful. In my mind, I think of this like having multiple tabs open on your browser. Alexa can now toggle between multiple skills.
That does it for the Alexa Live Keynote for 2020. Do you want even more Alexa goodness? Find out more in the Alexa section and the weekly Alexa newsletter, bringing the latest commands Amazon released right to your inbox.