Alexa Advances

The latest update for Alexa allows the assistant to function (nearly) hands-free through the Alexa mobile app. This improves the mobile app experience overall as well as creates the ability for users to manage devices in other rooms more seamlessly. In addition to their mobile efforts, Alexa’s HIPAA-eligible environment is beginning to be utilized by mainstream insurance providers. This week, we highlight Anthem’s Blue Cross Blue Shield effort which allows members to more easily access their plan information and data – an important, voice-friendly use case. Lastly, we have a survey we’d like you to take – more details in the footer.

Alexa Goes Hands-Free

Amazon is launching new hands-free functionality for their Alexa mobile app. Although users will need to have their phones unlocked and the app open, this still advances the assistant’s mobile capabilities. Users can now make requests and control their Echo speakers remotely without needing to tap to summon Alexa. This is part of a broader trend we are anticipating where voice enters mobile app contexts in a meaningful way. More on TechCrunch.

Healthcare Coverage Questions? Ask Alexa.

Health insurance provider Anthem has created a HIPAA-compliant Alexa skill that allows in-network members to retrieve information on their benefits and plan. According to Business Insider, users can ask “questions about their benefits, health reimbursement account balances, progress on reaching their deductibles, out-of-pocket fees, and customer service, as well as order prescription refills.” More on Business Insider.

Google’s New Home

Since the Google Home smart speaker was discontinued, many have been curious if a new device would replace it. After some leaked design photos, Google quickly confirmed that a new Nest Home smart speaker is on its way. The device looks to be a bit larger than the original with a higher quality design. More on The Verge.

Stats Don’t Lie

$325MM reported price for Sirius XM to buy Stitcher.  (data via TechCrunch)

5.5MM audio clips of voice recordings collected as part of Mozilla’s Common Voice initiative (data via Voicebot AI)

Chart of the Week

Voice Technology in Business Settings Morning Consult Survey
(Morning Consult)