AMAZON HAS just opened the floodgates on making Alexa even more versatile for UK users.
The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) launched in 2015 has this week been released in UK English and German, allowing users in those countries to take advantage of a wider range of services than were available when the product launched in Europe last year.
It's going to make life easier for developers, certainly, but it doesn't automatically mean that a bunch of missing features are going to work from day one.
For example, Audible e-books will work, but Kindle books can't be read aloud (yet).
TuneIn Radio will work (and has done since day one) but iHeartRadio doesn't (yet).
Traffic Reports don't work, but the recent launch of IFTTT in UK English has added a whole string of possibilities.
Alexa is doubtless the queen of voice control at the moment with a glut of devices released at CES in 2017, from third party speakers to fridges.
The important thing to remember here is that Echo and Alexa are two different things and while there might be some small enhancements to Echo, the real advantage here is the ability to make UK English and German versions of any device and incorporate Echo, opening the way to a whole new raft of regionalised products.
Up to now, certain requests have been met with an American voice telling you that the service isn't supported in the region. This should now start to disappear. Other products are ready for launch but have had no UK distribution.
Echoism.io is also hard-launching today, but like IFTTT this has been soft launched for a while. The service built by iQuarius Media allows users to test Alexa commands through a web portal.
It's expected that the remaining features will roll out later in the year, by which time, the list of skills will have grown even further We're still hoping that we can see some Google integration, but with Google's tight reign over their API, it'll take an official decision from Google and that's unlikely, given that Google Home is currently Alexa's biggest rival. µ
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