Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) intelligent assistant Alexa has just hit an impressive milestone. Today, Amazon announced that its Alexa app store has grown to over 1,000 skills. In January of this year, Alexa’s skills section had only about 130 apps. Several of the more notable additions to Alexa’s selection of skills include those from Capital One, Domino’s, Fitbit, KAYAK, SmartThings, and Uber.
In today’s release, Alexa director Rob Pulciani said, “Today, we have a vibrant community of tens of thousands of developers who are learning about the service, bringing useful and innovative skills to every aspect of Alexa customers’ lives, and introducing their own users to the magic and simplicity of hands-free, voice-driven interactions.”
Alexa has become popular through its ability to perform wide variety of tasks through the e-commerce giant’s voice-controlled home devices, Echo and Echo Dot, as well as its streaming device, Fire TV. Alexa’s skills and technology have also helped Amazon turn the Echo into a new hardware hit. Ordering the Echo was only available by invite up until last June. Since offering the devices to the general public, Amazon has repeatedly sold out.
Amazon launched the Alexa Skills Kit last year to make it easier for developers to build for the platform. This week, Amazon announced four new Alexa Skills Kit built-in intents that help users of third-party apps more easily navigate the skills. Amazon has also improved Alexa Voice Services, which lets developers add Alexa’s voice control to their own devices. The increase in available skills has shown that developers find the openness of the platform incredibly attractive.
Now, developers are hoping that Amazon will tackle revamping the Alexa skills section. The section currently has few features, making it difficult to find specific skills. There are no categories or top charts and no way to bring the best apps to the front-and-center to capture users’ attention. There will be many missed opportunities if Amazon does not change the way the skills are displayed and searched. Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said this week that he has more than 1,000 people working on Alexa’s technology.
Amazon’s Echo will soon be facing competition from Google’s recently announced Google Home product, a Chromecast-powered intelligent speaker. The Google Home will connect with most Google applications and Google Chromecast devices, enabling a wide range of capabilities. The Google Home will have a detachable base, allowing the user to select a product that matches his room’s decoration. The device is expected to be launched later this year.