Amazon Echo Still has no Killer Apps

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Amazon Echo smart speaker

Amazon’s Echo range of smart speakers are hugely popular. However, the device has not triggered a huge range of apps, nor standout successes, in the way smartphones did. Both the Apple App Store and Google Play store have far more apps on them, and generate farm more revenue for developers. Bloomberg News spoke to some developers to discover what the issues were.

Echo-branded smart speakers have attracted millions of fans with their ability to play music and respond to queries spoken from across the room. But almost four years after inviting outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has yet to offer a transformative new experience. Surveys show most people use their smart speakers to listen to tunes or make relatively simple requests—“Alexa, set a timer for 30 minutes”—while more complicated tasks prompt them to give up and reach for their smartphone.

Alexa - Stop Listening To Me

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Alexa Calling uses your Echo or Alexa app for voice calls

As ever more people buy smart speaker devices likes the Amazon Echo, the privacy concerns around such devices increase too. I’ve always been somewhat wary of them. Not that I’d be discussing much of any interest, but the idea of a device sitting in my home listening out attentively for a keyword, rather freaked me out. For Tom Hoggins, those concerns got too much. He explains in the Telegraph why he unplugged his Amazon Echo Dot.

I am not usually one for tin-hat conspiracies, but with the examples mounting and the increased scrutiny on companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook (among many others) for excessive data gathering, I did start to eye Alexa with some suspicion. It then showed an increased propensity for piping up over the dinner table, playing music without being asked or blurting out random facts when the ‘Alexa’ wake word had not been uttered in earnest. By that point, it was time for Alexa to go unplugged.