Amazon today announced that third-party developers will be able to make use of the Alexa assistant’s voice recognition feature to personalize apps for its line of Echo speakers. The news, announced at Amazon’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas and reported first by TechCrunch, builds on the company’s announcement in October that Alexa can now identify individual users’ voices to personalize responses.
Until today, that recognition feature only worked for Amazon-built services like shopping lists, flash briefing news updates, and Amazon Music, among other built-in skills. Starting some time in early 2018, however, developers will be able to tap into those voice-based profiles to make apps more personalized to various members of a household. This will put Amazon on par with rival Google in the smart home and digital assistant fields. Google launched multi-user support using voice recognition back in April and later on added the ability for developers to tap into this data for third-party apps.
In addition to announcing voice recognition for third-party apps, Amazon also revealed today at re:Invent that it’s bringing Alexa notifications on Echo speakers to a wider pool of developers starting today. The feature was first announced earlier this year before it entered a private beta testing period in September. Now, Amazon says Alexa notifications are ready for broader availability.
The notifications, which are opt-in only on the user end, combine an audio cue — typically some type of chime and spoken alert courtesy of Alexa — with a blueish green light change on the Echo speaker ring to signify an app notification. Users can then hear the notification with either a physical tap on the speaker or an audio command like, “Alexa, what did I miss?,” according to TechCrunch. Existing Alexa skills in the news, weather, and food delivery categories can make use of the feature, and Amazon says more apps will start incorporating notifications going forward.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Google does not give developers access to Google Home’s voice recognition feature; it does in fact allow third-party apps to use this data to personalize experiences.