What is Alexa? It’s Amazon’s virtual voice assistant
Regardless of whether you own an Amazon device, you’ve probably heard the name “Alexa.”
It’s the name you call out when you have a question — provided you own an Amazon Echo device or Alexa-enabled speaker.
Amazon’s virtual assistant is a female voice that talks to you in a conversational manner, ready to help you with many things. It has been integrated into several of the company’s products and is starting to find its way into third-party devices, like GE lamps and the Sonos One speaker.
Alexa can perform a variety of simple tasks, like playing music, but it can also be used to control smart-home gadgets, giving it the ability to dim the lights, lock the doors, or adjust the thermostat.
While “Alexa” has become synonymous with products like the Amazon Echo and has been a major selling point for devices like the Amazon Fire TV, you can’t actually go out and buy an “Alexa.”
You need to have a device that has the voice built in. So what is Alexa exactly? Here’s everything you need to know about Amazon’s virtual assistant.
Alexa offers a new sales channel for brands and merchants who want to sell physical goods and services through their Alexa skills. With Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills, you can use Amazon’s simple voice purchasing flow to sell physical goods or services like event tickets, transportation, flower delivery, and more.
Who/What is Alexa?
For most people, all you really have to know about Alexa is that it’s the name of the voice that comes out of Alexa-enabled speakers. Basically, Alexa is to Amazon what “Siri” is to Apple. Alexa is a voice that you can ask questions and get answers to, such as “what is the weather today in Chicago?” Alexa has been integrated into many of Amazon’s services and can be used with products such as the original Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, or Amazon Fire TV.
But really, what exactly is Alexa? When you ask Alexa a question, what you’re doing is communicating with a cloud-based service. Amazon has designed the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to mimic real conversations, but you’re actually using intuitive voice commands to get this service to perform specific tasks. “Alexa” is simply the “wake word” that alerts the service to start listening to your voice. For most devices, you just have to say it to get a response.
Here’s how Amazon describes the Alexa Voice Service on its developer page:
“The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service that allows you to voice-enable any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.”