Amazon gives Alexa iCloud support as Apple reportedly preps its own speaker

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Hot on the heels of recent news that Apple could be planning a Siri-powered speaker to take on Amazon Echo, the online retail giant has added iCloud Calendar support to Alexa’s roster of supported services.

According to Amazon, the feature is live in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, with more territories to follow. With the update, Echo users can now ask Alexa for updates on appointments made through iCloud, and even add events without ever using their Apple device.

Linking an iCloud account can be done through the Alexa app, in the settings. Alongside iCloud integration, Amazon’s digital assistant now supports a total of five calendar services: Gmail, Google’s G Suite for business users, Outlook (which includes Hotmail, Live, and MSN), and Microsoft Office 365 users with Exchange accounts.

Early rumors about Apple’s home speaker hinted at the inclusion of a touchscreen — something Amazon’s Echo range always lacked, up until just this month when it unveiled the Echo Show. According to the latest rumors, Apple engineers are testing prototypes in their homes and could reveal the device at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off on Monday.

If Apple does have something up its sleeve, the one-two punch of the Echo Show, combined with Alexa’s newfound ability to speak iCloud is an astutely timed retort. Either way, Wednesday’s news is sure to please Amazon users. The company says iCloud support marked among its most requested features.

Until recently, Amazon had the home speaker market mostly all to itself. Lacking competition from Google and Apple, the retailer was allowed to pioneer the segment mostly uncontested.

That began to change with the release of the Google Home last fall and looks to shift again if and when Apple finally drops what it has been working on. Fortunately for Amazon, Echo has years of services, support, development, and public awareness to fall back on — and that may prove decisive in fending off the Apple juggernaut.