Skip to main content

Alexa now has more than 15,000 skills under her artificially intelligent belt

amazon echo show review kitchen
The smartest person in your household may not be a person — at least, not in the traditional sense of the word. Alexa, that handy AI-powered voice assistant who lives in your Amazon Echo, has now mastered more than 15,000 skills. This latest figure is representative of all of her abilities as of June 30, and is an impressive 50 percent increase from just four months ago in February, when it hit 10,000 skills. Indeed, Alexa’s skill count has more than doubled since the beginning of 2017 — on January 3, Voicebot reported that the assistant had a total of 7,000 skills under her belt.

So just how difficult is it to develop an Alexa skill? The answer depends largely on the type of skill in question. For example, Flash Briefings, which comprise 20 percent of her skills (at least in the United States), are said to be “among the easiest to develop.” For example, media outlets like The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Washington Post, can easily deliver news and other popular content to readers and listeners via Alexa. While these skills may be easy to develop, they’re slowly becoming less ubiquitous as more customized skills gain in popularity.

Regardless of the sort of skills available to Alexa, one thing is certain — Amazon’s virtual assistant is far and away the leader among its competitors. Google’s skill equivalents, known as Voice Apps, number only 378. And while this is a 24 percent increase from the beginning of June, it still pales in comparison to Alexa. Microsoft, on the other hand, is even further behind, with just 65 skills. Sure, the number of things that a virtual assistant can do isn’t necessarily the only way to judge usefulness, but to say that Google Home and Microsoft are a bit more limited in functionality seems to be a fair assessment.

But even if we put raw numbers aside, the rate of growth exhibited by Amazon puts other smart home makers to shame. In June, Amazon Alexa added 2,776 new skills, while Google Assistant added just 74, and Microsoft Cortana added seven. That means that Alexa skill growth was actually 37 times that of Google Assistant.

“When your base gets larger it is hard to maintain high growth rates, but Amazon has done it,” Voicebot concluded. “Neither Google nor Microsoft seems to have effectively activated their developer communities and generated excitement about voice. That could come later, but today it appears the are living off of developer enthusiasm about Alexa.”

Editors' Recommendations

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
Got a song you love on your Echo? Alexa users can now share it with friends
Amazon Echo Studio Alexa Smart Speaker

How often are you listening to the radio when a song comes on and you think, "My best friend would love this?" Thanks to Alexa's new music sharing feature, you don't have to try to remember the name of the song. If you're listening to music through Alexa and hear a song you know someone would like, just say "Hey Alexa, share this song with ____."

Provide Alexa with the name of a contact and she will send the song to that person. They can then listen to the music through their own Echo device or through the Alexa app and send a reaction to let you know what they thought of it.

Read more
SpaceX’s Starlink internet service now has more than 10,000 users
spacexs starlink internet service now has 10000 users earth satellites

SpaceX’s satellite-based Starlink internet service currently has more than 10,000 users, the company revealed this week.

Elon Musk-led SpaceX invited people to sign up for a public beta of its internet-from-space service in October 2020, pricing it at $99 a month. Those selected also have to pay a $499 one-off payment for the Starlink Kit containing the necessary components to connect to the Starlink satellites. While the company is obviously controlling the customer numbers, increasing confidence in the project — and an expanding satellite constellation —is allowing SpaceX to offer the service to more and more people.

Read more
The best Alexa skills for kids and teens
mom and son using with amazon echo

Alexa skills can be fun and educational, but they're not all created equally. Some of the games are useful and entertaining, while others are bland and buggy. With that in mind, we've pulled together a list of some of the most entertaining and educational Alexa skills we could find.
Alexa skills for young children
Photo by Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash
Animal Workout
Say, "Alexa, open Animal Workout"
One of the biggest challenges when house-bound is how to channel all of that incredible kid energy. Why not let Alexa lead them in a voice-based workout routine that also engages their imagination while sharpening their play-pretend skills? Animal Workout prompts kids to imagine themselves as different animals, with a quick fact-based intro to each new animal and a short, music-accompanied activity, like wiggling like a ladybug or sticking your tongue out like a giraffe.

Unlike some Alexa skills that rely on Alexa's own voice, the professionally recorded host's voice for Animal Workout is enthusiastic and encouraging. As of December 2020, all content in the app is now totally free including expansion packs.
Freeze Dancers
Say, "Alexa, open Freeze Dancers"
Here's another one to help kids get moving. Freeze Dancers is an Alexa take on the old "freeze" game. The skill starts some music and everyone dances. When the music suddenly stops, everyone has to freeze. Each time, a voice asks, "Who didn't freeze?" You can say any name you like and the voice will offer some words of encouragement for the next round, or you can say "nobody" or "no one," and your group will be rewarded with a cheer.

Read more