Amazon's Alexa comes to iOS
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“Alexa, replace Siri.”
Amazon updated their shopping app on Thursday, bringing their digital assistant Alexa to the software. Users can now query Alexa for information and shopping help just like on the Amazon Echo. The assistant is accessible only through the Amazon app and seems more attuned to improving the shopping experience rather than acting as a full out digital assistant. While it can provide answers (and jokes) when asked, its specialty lies in sifting through Amazon’s massive product warehouse to pinpoint the best brand of cereal (or whatever else you might need).
It doesn’t look like Alexa can do some of the more basic functions of a digital assistant such as placing a phone call, sending text messages, or posting to social media. However, Amazon may be able to bring that functionality in a later update. It would be a long shot, as Apple tends to limit app integration on iOS. The Cupertino giant would be hesitant to give another digital assistant the tight integration Siri currently enjoys.
The Google app, which brought the Google Now assistant to iOS, currently cannot do much more than act as a search tool. It can’t call anyone or interact with anything outside of Google’s app. Alexa will likely be relegated to the same fate in the Amazon app.
However, it is interesting that Amazon was able to push such a digital assistant onto the platform at all. The retailer has claimed that they’ve sold millions of Alexa-enabled products which could massively increase Alexa’s prevalence in the industry. Right now, for iOS users interested in controlling their smart home, ordering 50 pounds of dog food, and hearing why the chicken crossed the playground, Alexa and Amazon’s app may be a good fit.