Amazon’s connected speaker, Echo, recently received an update that adds support for third-party “skills” that you can access using the voice activated virtual assistant, Alexa.

Want to listen to ABC Headline News, ABC Business News, Good Morning America, Fox Sports, and Jimmy Kimmel Live The Morning After? Just link your iHeartRadio account to the Echo and turn on the appropriate Alexa Skills.

Amazon Echo

Ask for live scores for the WNBA, in addition to the MLB, MLS, NHL, NFL, NCAA, and NBA. Ask such things as, “Who won the Knicks game last night?” or, “When is the next Mets game?’

Users can also now use Amazon Echo to set up multiple alarms and timers that can be programmed at the same time.

The update also includes integration with a number of different third-party apps. Wink Hub lets you sync and control a variety of different connected devices. With IFTTT integration, you can set timers to turn on and off lights. If you have an Audible account, you can now listen to audio books directly from your account.

You can also check your Google Calendar, listen to Amazon Prime music stations, and connect Pandora for streaming stations. Get traffic conditions before you leave the house with the newly added travel feature

ZDNet also noted that Echo is now compatible with StubHub, the popular online concert ticket website. Two games have been added to the content, Math Puzzles and Crystal Ball. The former is a numbers pattern game and the latter is similar to the Magic 8-Ball toy, in that you ask yes-or-no questions to get a random answer.

The voice-activated, Bluetooth enabled Amazon Echo is available from Amazon for $180.

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5 replies on “Amazon Echo receives more integrated software, adds Alexa’s ‘skills’”

  1. Google so missed the boat by not beating Amazon to something like this.

    1. Possibly, or maybe they decided that people wouldn’t want static living room based voice command device over and above their smartphone and/or smartTV. If the market takes off, there’s still plenty of time for Google to leverage their name and Android into a competitive device. Very early days yet.

      In fact, if you turn this around, it can be seen as Amazon looking for a way to get their foot in the door with voice activated services so they can start catching up with Google and Apple, whose voice services are already very well established.

      1. Well, this always seems to be Google’s outlook. Namely that the game is long.
        I don’t think we can doubt the popularity of the device/device-type at this point. It seems well regarded by almost all the press I see on it and Amazon’s continued innovation and rapid addition of third party service tie-ins must be speaking to success in sales as well.
        I hope Google does get on board as it is a device-type I’d like but I’d much prefer it in direct Android form.

    2. Google has always seemed a bit wary when it comes to voice. I mean, i think they’re the only one who didn’t even give their voice assistant a name. Also, i can see the headlines now ‘Google: the death of privacy, new machine listens and records everything said in your home!’, whereas with amazon doing it, privacy issues barely even registered.

      Still, i agree with you, i wish google could have pulled this off. Amazon did a pretty great job though.

      1. I think the lack of name and the lack of personality was an aesthetic choice in line with patterning the system after the computer interaction in the original Star Trek. Siri and Cortana have both gone heavy on on personality. At the end of the day I think the public likes personality more and Google went the wrong way there.
        I agree with you about privacy, both that they are probably touchy about it and that all the cash Microsoft spent on whisper campaigns in relation to Google and privacy did finally pay off. You can’t read anything about Google without a crack about it being creepy or how much they know about you. All from tech journalists who really should know better.
        Amazon does look to be doing a good job here. I’d just prefer if it was Google personally.

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