- Amazon upgraded the skills of its Alexa voice-activated digital assistant to better handle user requests to make shopping and to-do lists. Instead of restricting users to preset list categories, Alexa now lets users name their own lists for any purpose, such as shopping at different stores, TechCrunch reported.
- By saying "Alexa, create a list" to an Amazon device or the Alexa mobile app, a user is then asked to name the list for future reference. The mobile app lets users reach the list from any connected device, and Alexa's lists can be synchronized with third-party list-making apps like AnyList, Cozi and Todoist, according to Amazon's website.
- The updated list feature, which was frequently requested in user feedback, was introduced on Oct. 18 and will roll out to all Alexa devices over the next few days, the company told TechCrunch.
Making lists has been a popular convenience on smartphones and Amazon's latest move suggests users are embracing them on smart speakers as well. The expanded ability to create customized lists comes as Amazon focuses on lowering the barriers between Alexa and users. Amazon, like Apple and Google, needs to show that digital assistants are growing more useful than previous versions of voice-controlled technology. Giving Alexa the skill to create customized lists is one way Amazon is demonstrating that its device has real value beyond the novelty element. The next step after customized lists could be for Alexa to take additional actions based on users' lists, such as automatically placing orders for the list's items for home delivery from its warehouses.
While Amazon has provided an Alexa Skills Kit to urge third-developers to create new capabilities for its digital assistant, the company also has internal teams working to improve its skills in an effort to make Alexa-enabled devices a central part of interacting with consumers.
This latest move also appears to aim to position the e-commerce giant as an innovative leader of voice-based devices, as the space continues to grow more crowded with other tech giants testing out similar devices. The company rolled out a family of new Echo devices that aims to put Alexa at the center of the connected home. The updates let users link several actions into a single voice command, simplifying how people interact with the voice-activated assistant.