At its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, Amazon announced a slew of new updates to its Alexa digital assistant. These new updates have been made available to a majority of third-party developers, in a bid to extend its already solid market share in the dedicated smart speaker market.
First off, Amazon announced that going forward, developers will be able to use the Alexa voice to power their applications. Beyond that, the speaker will allow these apps to distinguish between different users and their voices, which should lead to Alexa offering up personalized responses in households with more than one member. Up to now, this feature set was only available in the company's built-in applications like Amazon Music. Seemingly, this puts it ahead of rivals such as Google, who introduced a similar feature back in April but has yet to implement third-party support. Amazon has already started recommending third-party solutions when its built-in capabilities fall short.
Secondly, Amazon announced that it will allow more developers to tap into its support for notifications. First announced earlier this year, it will allow users to ask the virtual assistant whether or not there are any notifications pending, or by asking "Alexa, what did I miss?". Users are made aware of these by means of the iconic blue halo turning green. Existing applications already using the feature include News, Weather, food delivery apps, and others.
Amazon recently launched its Alexa virtual assistant, and Echo devices in Canada, in addition to extending support for its services in Japan and India. The second generation Amazon Echo devices come in several configurations, in addition to the Echo Show, a touchscreen version of the smart speaker that was announced earlier this year.