Amazon's intelligent assistant Alexa seems to be getting smarter every day, and has just hit an impressive milestone. The retail giant today announced that Alexa just hit 1,000 third-party skills, all thanks to developers jumping onto the platform to make it easier to call up an Uber or order pizza. That figure makes products like the Amazon Echo, Fire TV, and Tap powerful smart home appliances, and potentially more compelling than Google's upcoming smart speaker.
Since launching the Alexa Skills Kit last year, developers from companies like Domino's, Fitbit, and Kayak have been working to extend the platform to allow users to call up information about their food orders, health, and travel plans just by speaking commands. The openness of the platform is incredibly attractive, as Alexa can also be built into third-party devices and even into your browser. Some of these ideas may not even be perfect (like the Triby), but the speed at which these products are coming out at is impressive.
A developer community working hard to make it easier to call an Uber or check your Fitbit stats
"Today, we have a vibrant community of tens of thousands of developers who are learning about the service," said Alexa director Rob Pulciani in today's release, "bringing useful and innovative skills to every aspect of Alexa customers’ lives, and introducing their own users to the magic and simplicity of hands-free, voice-driven interactions."
Having a large third-party developer community and 1,000 skills gives Amazon a head start in home AI space. Google just announced Google Home, its own Chromecast-powered intelligent speaker, at I/O last month. Right now, Google lacks the third-party partnerships that make products like the Echo attractive, but, as Mario Queiroz, Google's VP of product management, told The Verge, the Home will have the benefit of more powerful search functionality right out of the gate as Google starts courting developers. Apple is also expected to announced its own Siri-powered speaker at WWDC later this month. So as it stands, it's not clear if Amazon can hold onto its lead with Alexa, but it's nevertheless in a great position to compete.