With this advanced interface, Telzio customers – can talk to and make requests of – Alexa, the Voice of Echo. And they can do by simply using their smartphones — without the need for the physical cone-like device to be present. However, that’s just one of the many features that differentiates this particular chatbot [virtual assistant] from others in the market.
That’s right, Amazon opened up its Alexa automated voice service to developers last year, and now there are over 1400 different skills [up from 1,000 skills this past June].
Here are just a few of the more notable ones available.
Alarms and Timers
For business folks on-the-go, it’s most important to keep on schedule with one’s meetings, appointments, sales calls and conference calls. To that end and with your Alexa connected to your smartphone via the Telzio VoIP service, you can add multiple alarms or timers to alert you do to those important events.
All that’s needed is to simply tell Alexa to set the times you have scheduled throughout your day, and the specific events you have scheduled for each. In turn, she will dutifully add them to the alarm queue and remind you in a timely manner.
If you forget what’s coming next, all you have to do is ask Alexa to report back to you:
What alarms do I have set today?
At that point, you can tell her to add more time to a particular event or if one or more of those alarms need to be cancelled or postponed.
Alexa can also set alarms to repeat daily, by simply telling her to repeat an event at a certain hour, until further notice.
For a unique value-add, you might also want to select a celebrity voice to wake you each morning. Alec Baldwin, Missy Elliot, Jason Schwartzman and/or Dan Marino are currently the celebrity line-up you can choose from to alert you to a new day!
Internet of Things [IoT] Where They Didn’t Exist Prior . . .
If you currently own a good number of smart home IoT devices, there’s a probability they aren’t all officially interfaced with Alexa yet. But fear not, because Amazon has devised a work-around.
To start, make sure there isn’t an Alexa Skill for that smart device. It there isn’t, check IFTTT to see if your devices can be supported. If so, IFTTT is intuitive and easy to learn. And this software can greatly expand the usefulness of Alexa, allowing you to interface several actions to a single voice command, export your Alexa to-do or shopping list to Apple Reminders or To-do-list and much more.
Here are few Alexa IFTTT ‘recipes’ to get you started.
Bluetooth and Audio
By default, you can listen to Amazon Prime Music, Audible audiobooks, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, Pandora and Spotify with Alexa. When you’re on the road or even when you just want some down-time, you can even have your Kindle ebooks read to you by Alexa herself.
Also, if you want to play Apple Music, Google Play Music, your own music library or some other unsupported audio, all you have to do is first pair the Alexa device to a computer or mobile device using Bluetooth. Then you can stream any audio you want through your Echo, Echo Dot or Tap, using it as a Bluetooth speaker.
Order Through Amazon Prime
Once you become an Alexa fanboy or fangirl, you might also think about joining Amazon Prime, a consumer subscription service that entitles you to discounts on merchandise purchases and shipping.
Once registered, the added benefit of Alexa is that you can now purchase products just by asking her to place your orders. That wasn’t always the case in the past. Prior to July, you could only reorder things you had previously purchased using Prime. Now you can order anything that is Prime-eligible [excluding a few items such as apparel and jewelry.]
In addition, you can order a Dominos pizza delivery, or schedule a Uber or Lyft pick-up through Alexa.
What’s to Come?
Given the steep competition with Siri and other chatbots available today, Alexa’s R&D department is aggressively exploring other features to be added in the upcoming months. For starters, the company is reportedly engineering a follow-up device to its current Echo lineup, under the codename “Knight,” that sports a “tablet-like” display capable of serving up web pages, videos, and more.
Also, at tech blog Recode’s Code Conference in San Francisco earlier this year, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that more than 1,000 of Amazon’s software team are contributing to Alexa’s ongoing development. In an interview with Recode’s Walt Mossberg, Bezos said:
There’s so much more to come. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So stayed tuned for future enhancements you will be able to use with your Telzio VoIP service’s partnership with Alexa, and stop back often, as we will keep you updated here.
Ron is part of the marketing team at Telzio, covering everything from tips and tech for growing businesses to customer success stories for the Telzio blog. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.