Amazon’s Alexa now has over 1000 third party skills, up from 135 in January

Alexa has a better resume than most human beings do.

Amazon announced today that the cloud-based virtual assistant behind Amazon Echo has over 1,000 skills. Since Amazon opened Alexa up to third party developers, the ecosystem has grown exponentially, seeing as in January Alexa possessed only 135 skills.

Several new additions to Alexa’s skill set were announced in a statement released today. These include contributions from Capital One, Dominoes, Fitbit, KAYAK, Smart Things, Uber, Haiku Home, Genady Okrain and Ken Westphal.

“Less than a year ago we released the Alexa Skills Kit, making it possible for any developer to create voice experiences for Alexa,” said Rob Pulciani, Director of Amazon Alexa, in a statement sent to MobileSyrup.

“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. We’re excited about the 1,000 skills that are already available, and can’t wait to see what developers create with the next ten thousand,” continued Pulciani.

Developers who want to create skills for Alexa use the free Alexa Skills Kit, a smart home skills API within the platform. Amazon claims that the Alexa Skills Kit helps developers build for voice in just a few short hours, even if they’ve never done it before.

Alexa’s capabilities have been improving over time as the program grew in popularity. In March for example, Amazon improved Alexa Voice Services, which lets developers add Alexa’s voice control to their own devices.

Furthermore, last week Amazon announced four new Alexa Skills Kit built-in intents that help users of third-party apps navigate the skills with less difficulty.

Some of the world’s most well-known companies are developing third party skills for Alexa. Capital One is looking to give its customers voice access to banking information while Dominoes will be using it to provide customers with a hands-free way to order pizza.

Some of the world’s most innovative tech companies are also getting in on the ground floor of Alexa. Fitbit for example, wants to provide its customers with voice access to health and fitness stats.  

“Leveraging the open APIs offered through the Alexa Skills Kit, we created the Fitbit skill to give our users hands-free access to their data within seconds. By creating an easy way to find out their step count or how they slept last night, users can know if they’re on track with their goals – all without needing to check your tracker or Fitbit app.” said Tim Roberts, Executive Vice President of Interactive at Fitbit said in a statement sent to MobileSyrup.

In addition, the world’s most disruptive transportation company has big plans for its Alexa-integrated skill. Uber wants to let its customers order a ride, device-free.

“The integration of Uber with Alexa has taken simplicity to a new level for our customers and development team. We had the idea to give our customers the option to order an Uber with their voice and the Alexa Skills Kit made it easy with open, cloud-based APIs that worked seamlessly with our Uber API,” said Matt Wyndowe, Head of Product Partnerships at Uber in a statement.

While Alexa’s “app store” is still fairly sparse, third party initiatives are definitely a way to integrate the platform with the services users already access on a daily basis. Amazon has also been fully integrated with one of Pebble’s upcoming releases, the Pebble Core.

Allowing external companies to essentially borrow Alexa as a way to bypass the trouble of configuring their own AI features is simply the physical manifestation of issuing an open invitation to third party developers.

Through some of these developments, it’s become clear that Amazon wants Alexa to be the AI service used by all. While Google is busy developing the Google Assistant, to be featured in its upcoming Google Home service and messaging apps, Alexa already has several partnerships.

It’s become clear that in the tech world, six months equates a lifetime, demonstrated thoroughly through Alexa’s pile-up of skills in since January. This begs the question, when the Google Assistant does finally make its double-door entrance “later this year,” will it be too to catch up?

Related reading: Amazon’s Alexa will arrive in Canada next year inside the Pebble Core


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