As promised, Amazon is taking steps to let anyone incorporate the voice assistant software used by the Amazon Echo into third-party hardware. This could let computers, TV boxes, smart speakers, or pretty much any device with a microphone, speaker, and internet connection respond to voice commands by using Amazon’s technology.

Amazon has launched a developer preview of the Amazon Voice Service to kick things off.

alexa voice service

Plenty of smartphones and tablets include support for voice-based search and controls thanks to Google Voice Search, Siri, Cortana, or similar software. But Amazon says the idea behind its Alexa Voice Service is to bring natural-language voice controls to other devices, so you don’t need to find and unlock your phone.

Theoretically the service could be integrated into phones and tablets, but it seems like Amazon envisions it working with standalone devices  like the Amazon Echo — which is the company’s own Blueooth speaker/microphone/assistant device.

The developer preview is aimed at “hobbyists and hardware makers” and includes tools, documentation, APIs, and code samples. Amazon says it should take developers just a few hours to add natural language speech recognition features to a device by tapping into the company’s cloud-based service.

Among other things, Alexa Voice Service can control media playback, add items to shopping lists or to-do lists, provide traffic or weather updates, stream news updates, tell you about upcoming appointments from Google Calendar, tell you jokes, or answer questions with information from Wikipedia or other web sites.

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