Artificial Intelligence

Alexa Becomes Local Night Out Concierge

Alexa

Amazon is gearing up to boost Alexa’s capabilities, with updates reportedly on the way that will enable users to get information about local restaurants and movie listings via voice.

According to an unsourced report in CNET, the update will be released in the coming days, as well as a version for Apple iOS devices. CNET noted that the update will make it quicker and easier to use local search via Alexa. Apple’s Siri already enables users to find local restaurants and movie times, while Google Assistant also has similar functionality in place. Amazon’s Echo devices can also search for local results.

The impending update comes at a time when Amazon is giving Alexa many new capabilities. Earlier this month, it rolled out a new Alexa developer kit for on-the-go devices, making it easier for manufacturers to integrate the wildly popular voice assistant into their products, the company announced in a blog post. With the release of the kit, makers of mobile devices will be able to integrate the Alexa technology into their products, while investing less in hardware and integration efforts. The kit can be used for a range of devices, such as wearables, headphones, smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Several device makers — including Bose, Jabra, iHome and Beyerdynamic — have already begun developing mobile accessories with Alexa built in. However, with the new lightweight kit, all types of manufacturers will be able to integrate Alexa into their products without doing the bulk of the coding.

Alexa is hugely popular with consumers, jumping to the top spot in the App Store at the end of 2017, rising from a rank of between 60 and 90 in the earlier part of Q4. Adding to Amazon’s success, the Alexa-powered Echo Dot was the eCommerce giant's top seller during the 2017 holiday season.

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