Amazon Innovations

Alexa To Take On The Telephone

Amazon is gearing up to roll out Alexa-powered devices during 2017 that will enable people to start phone calls via voice.

According to a report in Recode, citing multiple sources, the Alexa-powered device or devices will let people have conversations with someone on the other end of an Alexa device via a feature that can also act as an intercom system. The hardware is currently in the beta testing phase, with an announcement expected to come in the next few months.

The report noted the intercom system could result in a conflict for Amazon, because it led the Series A round in Nucleus, a startup company that sells a table computer via Amazon that is aimed at replacing in-home video intercom systems. A Nucleus spokesperson said in a statement in the report that it “cannot speak to Amazon’s plans” but “when we think about the future of connected devices within the home, Nucleus is focused on building the future of simple family communication. There are plenty of other video platforms out there, and will likely be many more, but none that let you see your loved ones in under a second with one simple tap or voice command.”

In February, Amazon announced that Alexa hit a new skill milestone: 10,000. That’s right: Alexa’s got 10,000 skills. The 10,000th skill was reportedly approved on the night of Feb. 22, according to Wired. It’s a game called “Beat the Intro,” which had already been seen on the App Store and Google Play.

That night, the “name that tune”-style game was given the Alexa treatment, adding voice functionality to the user experience. While 10,000 seems like a major milestone, and it is in some ways, the stat still pales in comparison to the number of apps that major smartphone operating systems boast.

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