Earlier this month, Amazon announced the expansion of its range of smart speakers with the introduction of two new devices called the Echo Dot and the Amazon Tap. Much like the original Echo, both the newly-launched devices respond to the name ‘Alexa’, which happens to be the trigger word to engage the intelligent voice assistant in Amazon’s smart speaker lineup. It works much the same way Google Now responds to ‘OK Google’, Apple’s Siri responds to ‘Hey Siri’ and Microsoft’s Cortana responds to ‘Hey Cortana’. The original Amazon Echo was introduced back in late 2014 and continues to do plenty well for itself, and has become quite a sensation as it keeps earning newer features and more capabilities with every single update to the Alexa App.
However, the online retailer has bigger and better plans for its intelligent voice assistant, according to the company’s Senior Vice President of devices, Mr. David Limp. Speaking to the media earlier this month at the launch event for the two new Echo devices, Mr. Limp laid out the long-term vision that Amazon has for ‘Alexa’ and by extension, its entire Echo smart speaker lineup. According to him, while Amazon will continue to add new features to the Echo, the ultimate objective would be “to get to the point where you can order anything on Amazon”, even though he admits that “it may take a long time” for the company to actually be able to fulfill that ambition.
It’s worth noting here that at the time of its launch about a year and a half ago, the Amazon Echo could already order products from Amazon’s vast catalogue via voice commands, making it incredibly easy to add items to the virtual shopping cart. However, with more features being added to the device incrementally over the next few months, Alexa gained the capability to re-order previously-ordered items. Eventually, Amazon’s intelligent virtual assistant earned the ability to order some new products outright from the online retailer’s virtual shelves, but not having a display of some sort makes it difficult to shop for certain categories of products, like clothing or home furnishing, for instance. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how Amazon mitigates these issues as it tries to push ahead with its grand vision for ‘Alexa’.