Alexa is coming to smart watches and headphones this year

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Alexa could soon be coming to a lot more devices, from smart watches to Bluetooth headphones.

Amazon announced its new Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit today, in a move to expand the voice assistant to ‘on-the-go’ devices.

While Alexa has appeared on wearables before, the new kit aims to make the process much simpler, so Bluetooth devices built with it can connect right to Alexa through the smartphone app.

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Alexa could soon be coming to a lot more devices, from smart watches to Bluetooth headphones. Amazon announced its new Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit today, in a move to expand the voice assistant to ‘on-the-go’ devices. Amazon’s Echo Dot is pictured 

The new Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit means developers would no longer need to take on the bulk of the coding in order to add Alexa to their devices, the firm explains in a new blog post.

It works with the Amazon Alexa App for both iOS and Android, and will connect to Bluetooth audio device that have the new capability.

This could soon include headphones, smart watches, and fitness trackers.

According to Amazon, the kit will become available for developers ‘later this year.’

There are already a number of big name device makers working to integrate the service, with Bose, Jabrra, iHome, Beyerdynamic, Linkplay, SUGR, and Libre Wireless working to put out ‘Alexa on-the-go’ devices this year.  

The move aims to bring hands free control to mobile devices, allowing easier access to weather updates, music, calendar management, and more.  

Amazon also revealed today that Alexa users in the US can now control their microwave ovens with simple voice commands, by stating phrases such as: ‘Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken.’

While the functionality is limited to microwaves for now, Amazon says support for ‘other cooking devices,’ including conventional ovens, is on the way. 

Amazon has revealed that Alexa users in the US can now control their microwave ovens with simple voice commands, by stating phrases such as: ‘Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken.’ It will soon come to other appliances, including conventional ovens, as well 

Amazon has revealed that Alexa users in the US can now control their microwave ovens with simple voice commands, by stating phrases such as: ‘Alexa, defrost three pounds of chicken.’ It will soon come to other appliances, including conventional ovens, as well 

The new microwave functionality will first come to customers in the US, with other countries to follow.

Whirlpool has developed an Alexa skill for its connected microwaves, with plan to launch the service soon.

According to Amazon, Alexa users will be able to ask the smart assistant to set cook times, modes, and power levels, instead of relying on what the firm says can be a ‘confusing microwave experience.’

GE, Kenmore, LG, and Samsung are also working to integrate the cooking capabilities.  

Amazon says there are four new capability interfaces in Alexa’s Smart Home Skill API – Alexa.Cooking, Alexa.Cooking.TimeController, Alexa.TimeHoldController, and Alexa.Cooking.PresetController. 

On social media, reactions to the latest capabilities have been mixed, with some users commenting sarcastically on the idea that the common household appliance is ‘confusing.’

And, others are focusing on the potentially dangerous ways the new capability could go wrong. 

Amazon’s Alexa has steadily been building its skill set over the last few months.

Amazon’s smart assistant can now add ‘cooking’ to its ever-expanding set of home skills. The voice assistant now has microwave functionality. Stock image

Amazon’s smart assistant can now add ‘cooking’ to its ever-expanding set of home skills. The voice assistant now has microwave functionality. Stock image

THE SMART SPEAKER WARS

Gadget makers are flocking to create smart speakers. 

Already Samsung has revealed plans for a Bixby speaker to take on Apple’s HomePod, Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.

Apple’s speaker will have a higher price tag than the Amazon Echo range, which begins at $49 (£49) for the Echo Dot.

The speaker will provide a hub for appliances via Apple’s HomeKit system and establish a centre inside the home to lock people in to using other Apple services, according to the report.

Apple's $349 HomePod speaker will work with Apple Music and has several speakers and a built in woofer

Apple’s $349 HomePod speaker will work with Apple Music and has several speakers and a built in woofer

A speaker might help customers stay loyal to other services such as Apple Music, Apple Watch, Apple TV and AirPods. 

Google’s $130 (£105) Home speaker is triggered by the phrase ‘Hey Google’ while Amazon’s Echo uses ‘Alexa’.

Amazon's $50 (£40)  Echo Dot puts the firm's smart speaker in a small package

Amazon’s $50 (£40) Echo Dot puts the firm’s smart speaker in a small package

Amazon’s smart speaker is available in two versions – the full sized $180 (£145) Echo shown here, and a smaller, $50 (£40) version called the Echo Dot.

Amazon Echo uses Microsoft’s Bing search engine to provide additional information, while Google Home uses the company’s own Google Search.

Both Home and Echo are continually listening for commands, though Google and Amazon say nothing gets passed back to them until the speakers hear a keyword — ‘OK, Google’ for Home and ‘Alexa’ for Echo.

Google Home Mini:  Google's clever tech-filled $49 (£34) doughnut can do almost
everything its bigger voicecontrolled
Google Assistantpowered
sibling can do,
including answer questions
and control third-party devices.

Google Home Mini:  Google’s clever tech-filled $49 (£34) doughnut can do almosteverything its bigger voicecontrolledGoogle Assistantpoweredsibling can do,including answer questionsand control third-party devices.

Google’s Assistant software is also able to answer follow-up questions on the same topic, in a near-conversation style, but Echo as yet cannot.

However, Amazon’s Alexa software has a wider range of skills on offer that enable it to link up with and control more third-party devices around the home.

A light comes on to remind you that it’s listening.

You can turn off the microphone temporarily, too. 

Police are even exploring whether the devices could be used by owners to report crimes without ever leaving their couch.

The firm also revealed last month that Alexa is headed to the workplace.

The company said that Alexa is now programmed to handle a range of tedious office tasks.

Businesses can buy Alexa devices that help employees dial into conference calls, manage their calendars, find open meeting rooms and – not surprisingly – order work supplies from Amazon. 





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