Alexa takes on Siri

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Amazon-vs-Siri_WebA few weeks ago, I found myself entering into a very long term relationship with my Apple Watch. When I wrote my first blog on it, I was still experimenting. But a few weeks ago, I realized I’d become completely dependent on it. My life is different now that I can take calls, respond to texts, and see calendar invites on my wrist. Funny enough, I’ve completely ignored the health prompts recently, which were the whole reason I bought the thing in the first place. Life got in the way, or maybe all those texts, calls, and calendar invites got in the way! In any case, if I were taking a similarity test, I’d say watch:phone is like phone:laptop or like laptop:desktop. Of course I could function without any of these devices, but why would I?

Soon after declaring my long term commitment to my watch, I opened a box from Amazon and within five minutes, I was enamored with Alexa the Echo. I set her up in a few minutes, connecting her to my Amazon Prime account and my husband’s ad-free Pandora account. I took her in the kitchen and grew immediately dependent on my ability to do things with just my voice:

  • Alexa, play Pandora Glee Cast Radio
  • Alexa, what’s the weather going to be tomorrow?
  • Alexa, set a timer for 3 minutes.
  • Alexa, turn down the volume
  • Alexa, add sunscreen to my shopping list
  • Alexa, add “call mom” to my to do list

But several things frustrate me about Alexa, and it isn’t just her inability to understand what seems to be a basic request. She can’t tell me what’s on my calendar, because it is not a Google calendar. She can’t add items to the shopping list I share with household members via Cozi. And it appears she can’t directly read my iTunes library – I think Amazon wants me to import all my songs into their cloud and charge me for cloud space. I’ll keep using Pandora, thank you very much.

What occurred to me, as I felt like I was cheating on my watch with Alexa, is that there is a WAR going on underneath these devices. You see it when you log into Apple’s new photos program. You see it when you log into the Echo application. They want to own your content – and then get you for storage and all the features on top. Getting people hooked on devices is the key. Because of Alexa, I went from having a bad attitude about Google’s calendar platform to wanting to give them another try. I went from being a die-hard, premium paying user of Cozi’s calendar, shopping, and to-do platform to being dissatisfied because I can’t integrate it with Alexa.

I long for the day that Alexa and Siri and Cozi and everything else work together to make my life easier. I keep hearing that they are trying to create these open APIs to allow for more integration, but I suspect there are strong forces at play to keep them apart.

 

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