2020 Is No Match for Alexa

As Amazon unveiled 31 new features at the Alexa Live virtual conference, Alexa is showing no signs of slowing down in the quest to become your go-to assistant inside and outside your house. The advanced Alexa Skills Kit is a developers’ heaven—engagement with Alexa skills doubled over the past year, and developers now have the software at their fingertips to create immersive  experiences for brands and customers. The improved update positions Alexa as a friendly assistant that can keep up with natural conversations, control your mobile apps, and link skills to ads and apps. Also covered this week, Salesforce’s Einstein’s intelligence is tested and Pandora wants your affirmation.

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There’s a Skill for That

Siri should be getting nervous as Alexa paves the way for mobile domination. With Alexa for Apps, iOS and Android users can use voice to open apps and complete tasks—you can even use it to record your Tik Tok dance. Alexa Conversations creates skills that give users the freedom to speak naturally with their own phrases in their own order. With Quick Links, users can click to a skill from an app, website, or online ad. At this pace, what won’t Alexa be able to do? More on Amazon.

Einstein Wasn’t Smart Enough This Time

Salesforce’s Einstein Voice Assistant was retired this month, two years after its initial launch. Not only did Einstein allow its customers to navigate the CRM platform hands-free, but last year, it gave companies the abilities to create custom voice assistants. However, Salesforce’s voice capabilities aren’t disappearing—they’re being reimagined in the new Salesforce Anywhere App, which will contain voice functionality and enable collaboration in a remote and hybrid workplace. Einstein Voice can rest easy knowing its work will live on into the future. More on Voicebot.ai.

Opening Pandora’s Box

Originally introduced in December, Pandora’s voice-activated ads are increasing their features.. These ads encourage users to respond with “yes” to hear more brand content. Spotify has also tested interactive ads, but Pandora is now doubling down on the effort and opening the ad product up to broader beta testing. Additionally, Pandora’s updated Voice Mode allows users to request specific songs or albums if they watch a branded video first when initially, listeners could only ask to listen to certain stations or podcasts. Pandora might have more voice surprises waiting in its box for the future. More on The Verge.

Stats Don’t Lie

77% of consumers expected to increase their use of touchless interfaces during COVID-19. (data via TechRepublic)

100,000+ Alexa skills have been published. (data via ZDNet)

Chart of the Week

Types of Smart Speakers Linked with Smart TVs
(Digital TV Europe)