Amazon unexpectedly launched a voice command device called Echo back in November 2014, with great functionality and numerous nifty features. Back when the device launched, everyone was surprised by the cloud–based voice assistant service, better known as Alexa, which uses the power of the internet to provide all the information you need to answer specific questions, play music, read the news, tell you the weather, and a whole lot more. Even if Alexa seemed like the perfect household companion, it lacked several characteristics to make the service even more intelligent and useful. The main complaint users had about the Amazon Echo, was that it wasn’t able to connect to your smartphone for another task other than streaming media to Echo’s speaker. Amazon quickly responded to this and promised to make its voice command device even more intelligent. Today, Amazon delivered a first glimpse at the future of Echo, with recently added smartphone product integrations, including three brand new third-party apps that will give more functions to Echo by adding “Skills” to Alexa.
All of the newly released Skills have been available directly from the Amazon Echo companion app since Friday, so if you currently own an Amazon Echo device, make sure to try the three of them out. The first and probably the one that will give Alexa the most useful Skill is StubHub. This new feature will work to give the user knowledge about any events or activities happening near your location. To use StubHub, Alexa will first ask you to set a home city, which will be the base for any events you might be informed about in the future. The second and third new Skills available for Alexa are called Math Puzzles and Crystal Ball; both of which are designed with entertainment in mind. Math Puzzles gives the user a series of numbers and asks which number is next, with an incremental skill level, it is a perfect Skill to help activate your brain for a while. The Crystal Ball Skill works similarly to the classic Magic 8-ball toy, giving random answers to yes or no questions.
Amazon also added support for Cree connected light bulbs and products from Leviton and Lightify, which add up nicely to the overall home automation system that Echo provides. Although to use them, Echo must be first paired with a Wink Hub. There is no doubt that Amazon is greatly dedicated to the evolution of Echo, which with time will become an even better smart assistant for the average household.