When the Amazon Alexa first appeared in 2014, it seemed as though the world first envisaged by the likes of Back to the Future might be a possibility. Nine years on, and with further developments being made to the Internet of Things, Amazon finally has realised the true potential of Alexa’s voice-generated technology with the introduction of their Alexa Voice Service. As of 2023, Yahoo Finance reported that Amazon have sold over 500 million Alexa-enabled devices worldwide, including one of their most popular, the Amazon Echo device.

In essence, the Internet of Things is an umbrella term referring to the multitude of household technologies on the market which can be controlled using Wi-Fi or mobile data. It encompasses everything from Wi-Fi plugs that control slow cookers, kettles and blenders at set times, to home security systems which can be accessed remotely.

What the Alexa Voice Service aims to do is to connect the already user-friendly technology provided for by the Internet of Things, with an even more user-friendly interface in the form of voice-controlled software. In other words, the Alexa Voice Service wants to make the Internet of Things voice-activated.

Image of Amazon Alexa

The way this works is that Alexa device accesses a category of domestic device with a built-in microphone and speaker technology. The wake word “Alexa” is used (it’s possible to change the wake word at any point in the app), after which Alexa is able to control the device by obeying voice commands from the user. The user is identified through complex voice recognition technology, and regular updates mean that the capabilities of the Alexa Voice Service are growing all the time.

But why is this important? Sure, it’s entertaining to be able to impress your friends at a party by asking the Alexa smart speaker to change the song on your Amazon Music or turn down the lights, but what possible useful application might it have for normal people? The answer is: Pretty much everything! It would be impossible to go through absolutely everything that the Alexa can access, but here are some key things.

Get Fit with Alexa: Your Personal Fitness Coach for a Healthier Lifestyle

Cartoon of someone using Alexa Voice while doing push ups
One of the most popular applications for Alexa voice is providing personalised fitness training. 

Imagine being able to call up your own personal trainer like a genie from a bottle? Someone able to motivate you from the comfort of your own living room. That’s essentially what the 7-Minute Workout is.

Amazon’s Alexa is essentially a digital assistant / AI assistant that can tailor your fitness routine based on your fitness level, goals, and preferences. It can suggest appropriate workouts, adjust the intensity of exercises, and provide personalised feedback. This personalised approach ensures that you’re challenged but not overwhelmed, helping you achieve your fitness goals effectively.

You can use the Alexa to track your workout duration, calories burned, and heart rate. It can also visualise your progress over time, helping you see your achievements and stay motivated. This real-time data can help you identify areas for improvement and make adjustments to your workout routine accordingly.

An online PT app (or “skill” in Amazon speak) which you can set the pace of, pause and resume all with a voice command. Alexa can also access your Fitbit stats from those times when you are away from home.

How many steps did you take? How did you sleep last night? Is your blood pressure normal? All the things we would normally expect to have to go to our laptop or phone to access, Alexa Voice can call up in an instant.

Alexa supports fitness goals with:

  • Fitness Blender: This skill provides access to a wide variety of workout videos, ranging from yoga and Pilates to strength training and cardio. You can choose from a variety of durations and intensities to suit your fitness level and preferences.
  • Fitness Buddy: This skill offers personalised fitness plans, workout tracking, and nutrition guidance. It can help you achieve your fitness goals by providing tailored workouts, tracking your progress, and offering nutrition advice.

By incorporating Alexa into your fitness routine, you can make exercise more convenient, personalised, and motivating. With its voice-activated workouts, personalised guidance, and ability to track your progress, Alexa can become your indispensable fitness companion.

Alexa’s Financial Assistant: Managing Your Finances with Voice Commands

Cartoon of someone using Amazon Alexa for financial help
Alexa voice makes it easy to keep track of your personal finances.

This is probably one of the most useful applications of Alexa Voice since anything to do with finance is usually so strenuous. Anything that avoids a trip to the bank is welcome, and Alexa provides access to plenty of financial skills to ensure that as much stress as possible is taken out of controlling our money.

The Capital One skill, for example, allows you to check the balance on your credit card, make payments and access your account details.

Everything is voice-activated, of course, so there is no fiddling around with your smartphone or keyboard; though its bank-level security will require you to provide personal details, so make sure that you are out of earshot whenever you are asking Alexa to do your bidding!

Alexa’s financial management capabilities extend beyond checking balances and making payments. Alexa also assists with:

  • Track Spending: Alexa can help users track their expenses by integrating with budgeting apps and providing insights into spending patterns.
  • Set Budgets: Alexa can help users set and manage their budgets by providing reminders and helping them stay on track.
  • Manage Investments: Some financial institutions offer Alexa skills that allow users to view their investment portfolios, check balances, and make trades.
  • Seek Financial Advice: Alexa can connect users with financial advisors or provide basic financial guidance.

Cook with the Help of Alexa Voice: Hands-Free Meal Prep with Voice Command

Image of someone cooking using Alexa Voice
Alexa is also increasingly popular for culinary help.

Picture the scene. You’re at the office working late. You want to be able to come home to a freshly cooked meal, but you don’t want to have to wait for your food when you arrive home and you’re tired.

Enter Alexa Voice, once again, to save the day! If you own an Anova Precision Cooker, you can use the Anova Culinary skill to cook your food using your voice. You can set the temperature, set the time and access advice guides for how to cook different things.

Additionally, Alexa can access a number of recipes from popular cooking websites and apps, allowing you to find dishes that suit your preferences and dietary needs. Simply say, “Alexa, find a recipe for [dish name]” to receive a list of options. You can then refine your search by specifying ingredients, cuisine, or cooking time.

Alexa seamlessly integrates with compatible smart home appliances, allowing you to control them with voice commands. This includes preheating ovens, setting microwave timers, and adjusting stovetop temperatures. This hands-free operation keeps your hands free for cooking tasks and ensures precise temperature control.

With Alexa’s cooking capabilities, you can transform your kitchen into a seamlessly integrated cooking hub, making meal preparation more efficient and enjoyable.

Privacy and Security: Understanding Alexa’s Data Handling Practices

To address privacy concerns, Amazon has implemented several security measures:

  • Voice ID: Alexa can recognise and respond to the voices of authorised users, ensuring that sensitive information remains confidential.
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Alexa can be paired with two-factor authentication, adding an extra layer of security to protect user accounts.
  • Data Encryption: User data is encrypted in transit and at rest, minimising the risk of unauthorised access.
  • Transparency Reports: Amazon also publishes transparency reports detailing its data handling practices and responses to user requests for data access or deletion.

Other Fun Things Amazon Alexa Can Do

We’ll break down some of the fun and quirky things that the Amazon Alexa can do, according to Amazon:

  • Find your phone
  • Tell jokes and stories
  • Whisper
  • Track Santa
  • Play pranks
  • Drum roll

Unleashing the Power of Voice: Engaging Consumers with Alexa Skills

The rise of voice assistants like Alexa has opened a new frontier for brands to connect with consumers. Alexa Skills, interactive apps specifically designed for Alexa devices, offer unique opportunities to engage users in a natural, convenient, and immersive way. Here’s a deep dive into how brands can leverage Alexa Skills:

Understanding Alexa Skills:

  • Functionality: Skills are like mini-apps activated by voice commands. They can perform various tasks like ordering food, playing music, controlling smart home devices, and accessing brand-specific information.
  • Development & Launch: Brands can develop their own skills or collaborate with developers. Submission and approval processes ensure skill quality and adherence to Amazon’s guidelines.
  • Discovery & Usage: Users discover skills through voice search, browsing categories, or recommendations. Engagement depends on skill functionality, user reviews, and discoverability.

Brand Engagement Opportunities:

  • Direct Interaction: Skills create a direct communication channel with consumers, allowing them to access information, order products, manage accounts, and receive personalized recommendations.
  • Enhanced Customer Service: Brands can offer voice-activated support, FAQs, and troubleshooting via skills, improving customer satisfaction and reducing support costs.
  • Gamification and Loyalty: Engaging games, quizzes, and challenges within skills can boost brand loyalty, increase user engagement, and collect valuable data.
  • Personalized Experiences: Skills can leverage user data and preferences to curate content, offer personalized recommendations, and create more meaningful interactions.
  • Content Distribution: Brands can use skills to share news, podcasts, audiobooks, or educational content, expanding their reach and building deeper relationships with audiences.

Innovation on the Voice Frontier:

Example 1: Domino’s Pizza Skill: Order pizza with your voice, specifying size, toppings, and delivery options. This convenient skill streamlines the ordering process and increases sales.

Example 2: Headspace Meditation Skill: Guided meditations accessible through voice commands provide a hands-free mindfulness experience, enhancing the brand’s accessibility and impact.

Example 3: Nike Run Club Skill: Track runs, monitor progress, and connect with the running community through voice commands, fostering engagement and loyalty among fitness enthusiasts.

Optimizing Your Content for Alexa Voice Search: Speak the Language of Users

As voice assistants like Alexa take center stage, optimizing your content for voice search becomes crucial. Unlike traditional text-based searches, voice queries are conversational, natural language questions. Here are key tips to ensure your content shines in the voice search spotlight:

Embrace Natural Language:

  • Structure content like answers: Imagine you’re responding to a spoken question. Use complete sentences, answer directly, and avoid jargon or overly technical language.
  • Focus on long-tail keywords: People use longer, more specific phrases in voice searches. Research and target relevant long-tail keywords related to your content.
  • Conversational tone: Infuse your writing with a natural, conversational style, incorporating transition words and avoiding stiff, formal language.

Structure for Clarity:

  • Headings and subheadings: Break down content into clear sections with descriptive headings and subheadings that resemble spoken questions.
  • Short paragraphs and sentences: Keep paragraphs concise and use shorter sentences for easier listening and better comprehension.
  • Lists and bullet points: Simplify key points and takeaways with bulleted lists, making information easily digestible for voice listeners.

Optimize for Readability:

  • Active voice: Prioritize active voice over passive voice for clearer and more engaging sentences.
  • Simple vocabulary: Use simple, everyday language that even a child could understand. Avoid overly technical terms or complicated jargon.
  • Question-based approach: Consider framing your content around potential voice search questions users might ask, directly addressing their intent.

Technical Optimizations:

  • Mobile-first: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, as many voice searches happen on smartphones and smart speakers.
  • Fast loading speed: Optimize website speed for a seamless experience, as users expect instant responses from voice assistants.
  • Structured data: Implement relevant schema markup to help search engines understand your content and display it accurately in voice search results.

Key Takeaways of Alexa Voice

So there you have it; a small sample of the skills available for access through Amazon’s voice activated device, Alexa. It would be a mistake, however, to think about Alexa’s voice as being an extension of consumer vanity.

There is an opportunity to think of the potential of Alexa Voice in assisting differently-abled or less mobile consumers, the elderly population and anyone else who, for whatever reason, mightn’t necessarily be able to leave their home to access the services available to the wider population. This is why Alexa and other smart devices can be seen as highly important and useful. 

It is worth keeping an eye on Alexa Voice updates too since more products and services are added to it on a regular basis.

The future Marty McFly experienced is here, but one which is more subtle and in many ways more fun than having access to a hoverboard. And who knows? The way things are going, that might be one of the next skills on Amazon Voice’s already extensive list.

To learn more about the importance of voice search, check out our blog here

You can also read more on our Alexa privacy guidelines here

FAQs About Alexa

What is Alexa?

Alexa is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon that can be used on various devices, including smartphones, speakers, and smart home appliances. It can be controlled through voice commands and is capable of performing a wide range of tasks, such as setting alarms, the ability to control music and play music, answer questions, and control smart home devices.

How does Alexa work?

Alexa is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. It uses a variety of sensors and microphones to understand and respond to user requests. It can also access and process information from the internet to provide comprehensive answers to questions.

What are Alexa Skills?

Alexa Skills are third-party applications that extend the functionality of Alexa. They can be used for a variety of purposes, such as playing games, learning new languages, and getting news updates. There are thousands of Alexa Skills available, and Amazon has introduced new ones on a regular basis.

How do I set up Alexa?

The setup process for a new Alexa varies depending on the device you are using. However, it is generally a straightforward process that involves downloading the Alexa smartphone app, creating an account, and connecting your device to your Wi-Fi network.

What are some of the benefits of using Alexa?

Alexa can make your life more convenient by automating tasks, providing information, and controlling smart home devices. It can also be a great source of entertainment, with music, games, and audiobooks available.

What are some of the drawbacks of using Alexa?

Some people may be concerned about the privacy implications of using a voice assistant. Amazon collects and stores data about your interactions with Alexa, and this data can be used to target advertising and personalize your experience. However, Amazon allows you to control how much data Alexa collects and store, and you can opt out of personalised advertising.

How can I protect my privacy when using Alexa?

Here are a few tips for protecting your privacy when using Alexa:

  • Use strong passwords for your Amazon account and your Wi-Fi network.
  • Disable the Alexa voice recording feature.
  • Say “Alexa, stop recording” when you do not want Alexa to record your voice.
  • Review your Alexa privacy settings regularly.

How can I troubleshoot Alexa problems?

If you are having problems with Alexa, there are a few things you can try:

  • Make sure your device is connected to the internet.
  • Check your Wi-Fi signal strength.
  • Restart your device and check device settings.
  • Uninstall and reinstall the Alexa app.
  • Contact Amazon customer support for further assistance.
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