EXCLUSIVE: NEVER ONES to turn down the chance to snoop about, the INQUIRER found itself at an impromptu press conference with Dave Limp, SVP, Amazon Devices & Services.after the European launch of the firm's self-confessed Star Trek-inspired Amazon Echo voice assistant speaker.
INQ managed during the course of the chat to put a couple of questions that yielded some interesting responses.
The first, somewhat self-serving, was the observation that, although Alexa, the disembodied voice of Echo, had been integrated with National Rail Enquiries, there was no mention of Transport for London.
"I am sure we can do something around that. I don't know. Is it important?" asked Seattle resident Limp, as only a non-Londoner could.
Amazon UK's Tarek El-Hawary has since confirmed to INQ, "There are a couple of skills already live in the US for the tube which use TfL open data and Amazon will look at if these will be coming to the UK. Developers in the UK can use the self service APIs for Alexa to build this skill if they wish.
In fairness to Amazon, that's the way TfL works. It has always published its APIs without producing native apps, leaving Londoners to choose from a myriad of options and the combination of Alexa and TfL APIs could make for something pretty special.
So if anyone fancies the task - there's a need there and you can do it! You know who to thank when TfL journey planning rolls out to the Amazon Echo in the coming weeks.
The other more tantalising prospect was that of closer ties with Android and Apple products. We cited the example of Google Play Music, which would be a logical option as a source for listening. Additionally, Google Now, with its complementary skills, would make a very useful addition.
"We have a music API that's open. At the end of the day, the more services we integrate with the better. It's the same answer I give for Apple. The door is open. That's better for the customer," said Limp.
Further proof of this comes with the Spotify integration with Alexa, launched earlier in the year. Currently, Google Play Music can be used with Alexa via a phone or tablet, but native integration would allow voice control.
Fragmentation in the smart home sector and beyond is an escalating problem, so it's good to hear that Amazon is at least open to the idea of playing nice with its rivals.
However, as ever the problem is going to be who makes the first move. We've got a hunch as we get nearer to the launch of Google Assistant that if we ask the same question, Google will tell us: 'We've got an API. The door is open."
The only difference is that Amazon just blinked first. µ
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