Amazon is working on a new feature for its Alexa voice assistant to help Android and iOS users access the service using voice commands. ‘Called Alexa for Applications,’ the latest app is being released in beta form today, meaning that Amazon is consulting with select developers on how they want to use it.
It is the first for Amazon’s assistant to put Alexa as a platform-agnostic competitor to Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant, and a bold extension of its strategy.
Developers who want to use Alexa for Applications can now apply to join the demo. Amazon is also introducing a host of new Alexa capabilities at the same time, including a beta for a more natural conversational style, pausing skills, Amazon shopping on Echo touchscreen devices and expanding Alexa’s mobile and online skills.
It will probably take some time before more apps leverage the latest talents of Alexa. However, this could go a long way towards closing some of the feature gaps with rival voice aids.
Amazon needs users on either an iPhone or an Android device to ask Alexa to open Twitter and search for a hashtag, according to the report, and the app will then let Alexa ‘s companion do the job of opening the app and inputting the search word.
It’s a different form of engagement that Amazon hopes will catch on and help better place Alexa as a viable rival to Apple’s and Google’s digital assistants, all of which are heavily ingrained in their respective operating systems and thus have more access to applications and system-level functionality.