Why Amazon Unbundled Virtual Assistant Alexa From Echo

Read original article on: TechCrunch

On Thursday, Amazon unveiled a tri-fold initiative that unbundles Alexa, its own speech-command virtual assistant, from the smart speaker Echo it originally inhabits. This includes an API set that allows third-party developers easily add Alexa into their own apps, Alexa Voice Service that let gadget makers to integrate Alexa into connected hardware, as well as a $100 million Alexa Fund dedicated to supporting app developers and startups that are looking to build voice-powered experiences.

This unbundling came just a month after Microsoft’s announcement of Project Oxford, which includes a set of APIs and SDKs to allow developers to integrate Cortana, its own virtual assistant service, into third-party platforms and apps. At the time, we wondered about the potential of speech-driven digital assistants like Cortana and Siri to become the new universal UI. And now, with Amazon starts pushing Alexa into new apps and platforms, it seems like we are one step closer to an inevitable virtual assistant showdown, which could have a ripple effect on both the mobile ecosystem and the development of Internet of Things.