Alexa, it's time for some upgrades.
News that Amazon sold nine times more Echo speakers this Christmas is unsurprising. Echo Dot is absurdly cheap, and Amazon's Alexa service is by far the most capable when you look at total available commands. At the same time, there's a lot of room for Alexa to grow and improve in the coming year. Things to be added, changed, and in general improved in order to make this the best possible connected home hub.
Here's where I'd like to see Amazon Echo head in 2017.
Connect to one another
Because they're so cheap, I now have a single Amazon Echo and multiple Echo Dots in my house. Yet if I want to play music, I can only play on one of them at a time. I'd like to be able to sync all of my Echo systems together for total home audio.
We're already seeing this work on other platforms, so it's unlikely Amazon will wait too long to adopt this feature. In doing so, Amazon is making it possible to easily connect any kind of speaker, since the Echo Dot can connect via 3.5mm jack. That makes every decent speaker an Echo, which is going to be a great feature to have.
Unified command structure
Amazon's command list is huge, but it's also broken up into classes right now. You can say "Alexa, do X" or you can say "Alexa, ask Y to do X" and that second part gets complicated. Sometimes partner app names are long and the command becomes more complicated than just picking up your phone.
Amazon could unify these commands and make it possible to set favorite apps from the Alexa app, so if you have multiple skills enabled with the same basic command structure Alexa knows which service you prefer unless otherwise specified. It seems like a small change, but it'd make a big difference in how people speak to their connected hubs.
Alexa from my phone
I'm not always in the same room as one of my Echo speakers, and there's no way I'm going to convince my family it's alright to put an Echo Dot in the bathroom. Sometimes Alexa needs to be portable, and the way to do that is to make it something I can enable from my phone.
This isn't going to be easy, and will likely never be allowed to be as functional on phones as Siri or Google Assistant or Cortana, but people embedded in this ecosystem that don't own a Fire Tablet would love the Alexa function wherever they are.
Voice reminders for re-ordering
Once you figure out all of the details, shopping for quick things through Alexa is great. The one thing it doesn't handle super well right now is re-ordering things, especially if you're on a subscription and it's not time for that subscription to re-send.
Being able to check in on a subscription status with something like, "When am I set to order toothpaste again" would be incredible useful. It'd also be nice to ask for a re-supply of something you have on a subscription order and have Alexa respond by asking if you want to adjust the ship date of the next subscription since you're ordering early. Making Alexa seem more aware of your ordering history and acting based on that would be a great way to create a more complete experience here.
What would you ask Alexa to do?
Did I miss anything here? Are you looking for Amazon Echo to support something more? Share your thoughts with us!
- Amazon Echo review
- Echo Dot review
- Top Echo Tips & Tricks
- Tap, Echo or Dot: The ultimate Alexa question
- Amazon Echo vs. Google Home
- Get the latest Alexa news