Many of Alexa’s new features are the result of study and analysis on part of the voice assistant’s development team. During last year’s midterm elections, analysts saw a massive spike in questions related to the elections. Users wanted to know which candidates were in the lead in what area, where the nearest polling station was, and much more. The team took these questions and developed functionality they believed Alexa users would appreciate, which resulted in Wednesday’s announcement of Alexa Political Contributions.
This new feature will allow users to make a donation to their favorite presidential candidate by saying, “Alexa, donate to (name of candidate).” Donations of up to $200 can be made to any candidate that signs up for the program starting next month. Donations will go through Amazon Pay, the payment processing service that already handles other types of payments made through Alexa as well as purchases made on the Amazon website.
Alexa can already answer some election-related questions. If you want to know when the next debate is, she can provide that information. Alexa can also tell you what companies, organizations, and individuals are endorsing what candidate.
To avoid political ramifications, at least as far as is possible with a subject such as this one, a recent Amazon blog post listed out their core tenets in developing this experience:
- “Alexa is an objective source for elections information.”
- “We offer choice.”
- “We will keep making Alexa smarter.”
Alexa also provided a list of questions to ask to better understand how these questions work:
- “Alexa, who is running for president?”
- “Alexa, how is [candidate name] polling?”
- “Alexa, who endorses [candidate name]?”
- “Alexa, when is the Iowa caucus?”
- “Alexa, how does [candidate name] stand on education?”
- “Alexa, when is the next debate?”
Amazon promises to add more features over the year in preparation for the 2020 presidential election. This type of functionality elevates the voice assistant from more than just a tool for finding traffic and weather information to a truly useful assistant, and the continued development hints at the fulfillment of Amazon’s continuing promises to make the platform the best in the world.