The Internet of Things (IoT) industry is still young, but people are slowly getting used to the idea of connected consumer electronics, largely thanks to digital assistants like Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. As these smart companions are always evolving, they're gradually becoming more capable and useful, which is why it's important for developers to keep them regularly updated. As it turns out, that's exactly what Amazon has been doing in recent years with a lot of help from third-party developers.
A couple of days ago, the Seattle-based tech giant announced that Alexa will soon recognize hundreds of new commands as another major update for the said digital assistant is in the works. More specifically, Amazon's developers are working on new Intents for Alexa. Simply speaking, Intents are command categories which enable the company's digital assistant to recognize some simple questions and commands made by users. In the following weeks, Amazon will add hundreds of additional Intents to the Alexa Skills Kit, a package of developer tools designed to facilitate the creation of new Skills for Amazon's digital assistant.
Speaking of which, the Seattle-based tech giant revealed that the number of Skills available for download from the Alexa Skills Marketplace had increased 50 times in the last 12 months. More specifically, users can currently download over 5,000 Skills for Alexa. Back in early 2016, they only had approximately 100 to choose from, so it's evident that the Alexa ecosystem is growing at a rather rapid pace. And while the Alexa-infused Amazon Echo connected speaker recently debuted in the United Kingdom and Germany, the new Intents mentioned above will initially only be available for use in the United States. While the Seattle-based tech giant also has plans to debut new Skills in other parts of the world, there's still no word on when we can expect that rollout to begin.
Regardless of that, this is still great news for Alexa developers as additional Intents will certainly shorten development times of new Skills. In related news, Amazon also revealed that it's currently working on a solution to facilitate Alexa's understanding of human speech as the company wants to make its assistant more conversational, i.e. reduce the number of follow-up questions it has to ask in order to understand a query.