Amazon burst onto the personal assistant scene (and fairly dominated it since then) when it launched the first Echo device in 2014. It was one of the most advanced smart speakers in the market, owing to its quirky little feature of a voice assistant. Alexa, which many initially considered to be a gimmick is now one of the frontrunner in the world of AI, on par(and sometimes even better) with the likes of Google Assistant and Siri.
It is no secret we rely on our smartphones and smart speakers to answer some of the weirdest and outlandish questions. And more often than not, whenever you pose such questions to Alexa, you end up with a link to a random Wikipedia page. Amazon seems to have found a solution to this problem. They are rolling out an update – Alexa Answers which would make Alexa much smarter and sound more human-like at the same time.
Alexa Answers is an invite-only program which lets the customer community answer some of the questions Alexa still can’t. Through the internal beta program, Amazon registered over 100,000 responses in just one month! Topics for the queries range from science to geography to music. Once on the website, customers can browse through topic categories, select a question that appeals to them, type their response, and click “submit.” Once submitted, Amazon registers this answer. And the next time a customer asks a question, Alexa is all fired up and ready to give you the answer. But Alexa would mention the response is from an Amazon customer before giving it out.
For nearly 20 years, we’ve allowed customers to offer their input on Amazon.com product pages through customer reviews and community-based answers. Similarly, with Alexa Answers, now customers can help add facts to Alexa from which the tens of millions of customers in the Alexa community can benefit
said Bill Barton, Vice President of Alexa Information in a blog post released earlier today.
You could now expect responses to questions such as “What is Juniper syrup?”, “Where was the world’s largest wave surfed?”, ” How long does it take for an ice cube tray to freeze?”, “Who wrote the score for Lord of the Rings?” or “Where do bats go in the winter?”.With the new update, Alexa will also be able to converse seamlessly when asked to play music. It will ask you follow-up questions about the genre or tempo you want. It will then play a short preview of the playlist suggestions before hooking you up the playlist of your choice. Users will also be able to tell Alexa when they like a song or ask it to never play a song if they don’t like it.