To keep up with the growing use of voice-enabled intelligent assistants, Amazon has added yet another new skill for Alexa: intercom-like announcements. The new feature started rolling out yesterday to customers in the U.S. and Canada.
Alexa Announcements lets people send messages in their own voices from one Amazon Echo speaker to other compatible Echo devices in the home. Users can activate the feature by saying things such as, “Alexa, announce,” “Alexa, tell everyone,” or “Alexa, broadcast.”
Amazon’s latest functionality mirrors the broadcast feature that Google announced for its Home devices in November.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s share prices have slumped over the past few days as President Donald Trump has aimed Twitter criticisms against the company, whose founder and CEO Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post. Stung by the newspaper’s investigations into various White House-related scandals, Trump has accused the publication of “fake news” and harangued Amazon for “costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money.”
Alexa’s Growing Smarts
Alexa’s new intercom function, which works in one direction only and requires all Echo devices to be set to the same user profile, is just the latest feature among many that Amazon has been launching for its intelligent assistant. For example, last month the company began supporting Alexa-based text messaging, audio calls, and video calls on mobile devices with the app.
Amazon is also contemplating another feature that would let users make peer-to-peer payments via Alexa, according to a report today in The Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed sources familiar with Amazon’s strategy, the paper said it’s a move that would push the retailing giant into new competition with the payment efforts of PayPal Holdings Inc.’s, Venmo as well as big banks.
“In the next five years, we will see conversational AI get smarter on multiple dimensions as we make further advances…