What is Alexa?

By Bradly Spicer •  Updated: 07/28/21 •  3 min read

Amazon’s Alexa is a voice-controlled smart virtual assistant. Alexa can control varying IoT (Internet of Things) devices in your Smart Home. Alexa can play audio, control your lights, speakers, TVs and even plug sockets, one of the more used features is the ability to order products directly via voice control through Alexa.

Alexa is operated via the cloud, this means as the Alexa network is updated the number of services you have access to increases as well.

When was Alexa made?

According to David Limp, Amazon’s Alexa was originally inspired by the computer (M-5) on Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise and was released in 2014 with the first Echo Smart Speaker. The history behind Alexa’s name originates from Ancient Egypt’s Library of Alexandria.

What can I do with Alexa?

Alexa is more commonly related to the voice assistants you find on your phone. Originally made popular by Siri on the iPhone, Alexa took the industry by storm 4 years after the original Apple voice assistant. As Alexa wasn’t the first on the market, it gave her a lot of room to fix prior voice assistant issues.

One of the more important factors of Amazon’s Alexa is the use of skills over apps, whilst there is a set of default skills that you have in your device you can view the Amazon skill collection database to install more, from games to stories, you’ll find something that fits your needs from the 30,000+ options available.

As time goes on, Amazon will continually update the repository of skills and commands you can ask Alexa, here are Alexa’s most popular uses:

  • Play Music
  • Setup Routines
  • Listen to the news
  • Get sports updates
  • Check the weather
  • Control your Smart Home
  • Answer mathematical equations
  • Call Mobile Phones
  • Call other Alexa-enabled devices
  • Listen to stories
  • Stream Live Radio
  • Use like a search engine
  • Play games
  • Tell Jokes
  • Find Recipes
  • Shop on Amazon
  • Teach varying lessons
  • Order food
  • Find local business information

What has Alexa’s impact on the world been?

Alexa isn’t the first voice assistant, the first intelligent voice assistant was actually from 1994, which was created by IBM and named “Simon”. This was followed by Google Voice Search via Google Assistant being on Android phones in 2008 but vastly improved by Alexa who can still be argued to have the most significant impact on the Smart Home market.

Whilst Google Assistant did technically come out first, Alexa was the first of her kind to really take control of the market for voice assistants, brushing Cortana, Bixby, Siri, and Google Assistant to the side.

Whilst Amazon won’t reveal an official count of Alexa-enabled devices in operation, this report shows that around 70% of the total US smart speaker users will be using an Amazon Echo device instead of their counterparts.

Many analysts expect this to only increase as Alexa stays the most affordable & easy to use a voice assistant on the market.

With every Black Friday & Cyber Monday getting more and more popular, it’s no wonder Amazon is seeing repeat cases of out-of-stock echo devices year after year.

It’s quite apparent that “Alexa” has become the new “Just Google it”, a survey by chatbotsmagazine shows that around 57% of respondents use a voice assistant multiple times a day and another 17.4% at least once a day. Around 20% of users weren’t sure of said that they didn’t use it, however, the general consensus was that their voice assistant of choice was surprisingly useful.

Bradly Spicer

I'm a Smart Home and IT Enthusiast that loves to check out new technology and gadgets! I enjoy reading your experiences and news, so if you want to share anything or chat smart homes, definitely send me an email!