Alexa Live, Amazon’s annual voice assistant app development conference, kicked off last Wednesday with a few surprises. On the one hand, the Alexa developer community is much more stable than one would expect: 900,000 developers have created over 130,000 so far. Alexa skills (Amazon’s name for Alexa apps), some of which earn over $1 million a year.
Those numbers come from an interview with Nedim Fresco, Amazon’s vice president in charge of Alexa, who said there are over 140,000 different smart home devices connected to Alexa. This leads to two other important topics for Alexa Live this year – computing and device interoperability.
Amazon describes the recent boom in digital voice assistants as a new era in computer history, similar to the revolutions marked by personal computers, the advent of the Internet, and the shift to mobile devices. Surrounding computing leverages all of these technologies and adds voice commands on devices such as Amazon Echo smart speakers.
For example, the new Alexa Send to Phone feature allows you to start an interaction on your Alexa device and then continue on your phone. To do this, Alexa connects directly to the corresponding mobile app and sends a push notification that allows you to continue with Alexa exactly where you left off.
To further spread the software and algorithms behind its innovative AI-powered voice assistant, Amazon earlier this year announced the Alexa Custom Assistant program, which allows other companies to hire the underlying technology to build Alexa to build their own voice assistants. which may correspond to Alexa.
Verizon is among partners using this capability in a device called the Verizon Smart Display, which Amazon announced on its blog. Amazon says the new device is designed to help Verizon customers create new services and manage their account, and will respond to both Alexa and Hi, Verizon.
But in order to become fully self-developing and autonomous to solve the real problems of a person’s daily life, smart devices must interact with each other. This is one of the reasons why Matter (formerly Project CHIP), the smart home interoperability standard expected later this year, will play a key role in Alexa Live this year.