Now, just because Alexa understands what I’m saying better doesn’t mean she always has a response to my questions, though. Both AI’s gave me the current weather report, Alexa said she didn’t have information for the Sharks query, and Alexa also didn’t have a response for the movie question. Siri, however, gave me information about the Sharks’ next game (October 4, against the Flyers, if you’re curious), and for the movie question, while she didn’t hear it quite right, she still got the gist: She suggested seeing War for the Planet of the Apes on Friday, along with movie times at a handful of nearby theaters. Is Siri smarter? She may know a wee bit more than Alexa, but largely, their question-and-answer base is comparable.
By default, Echo devices use “Alexa” as their wake word. While the device is constantly listening, it only starts tracking and analyzing what you say next after it hears “Alexa.” It then pulls up the relevant results. However, if, say, someone in your house is already named Alexa, you can change the wake word to something else: Amazon, Echo, or Computer.
There are a number of ways messages can be sent from Alexa's application. Alexa can deliver messages to a recipient's Alexa application, as well as to all supported Echo devices associated with their Amazon account. Alexa can send typed messages only from Alexa's app. If one sends a message from an associated Echo device, it transmits as a voice message. Alexa cannot send attachments such as videos and photos.[49]
Given Amazon's strong belief in voice technologies, Amazon announced a US$100 million venture capital fund on June 25, 2015. By specifically targeting developers, device-makers and innovative companies of all sizes, Amazon aims at making digital voice assistants more powerful for its users.[177] Eligible projects for financial funding base on either creating new Alexa capabilities by using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) or Alexa Voice Service (AVS).[178]
Amazon developers chose the name Alexa because it has a hard consonant with the X, which helps it be recognized with higher precision. They have said the name is reminiscent of the Library of Alexandria, which is also used by Amazon Alexa Internet for the same reason.[12][13][14] In June 2015, Amazon announced Alexa Fund, a program that would invest in companies making voice control skills and technologies. The US$100 million in funds has invested in companies including ecobee, Orange Chef, Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, MARA, and Mojio.[15] In 2016, the Alexa Prize was announced to advance the technology.
There are concerns about the access Amazon has to private conversations in the home and other non-verbal indications that can identify who is present in the home with non-stop audio pick-up from Alexa-enabled devices.[69][70] Amazon responds to these concerns by stating that the devices only stream recordings from the user's home when the 'wake word' activates the device.

As of this writing, Amazon has thousands of sources for flash briefings.  The sources they include can be hyper-local like your local news station. Amazon also has specific topics like tech or business, or general info.  Many of these sources, like NPR, are podcasts provided by Tune-In.  These briefings are audio files Alexa plays for you.  Other sources like the AP news stories are read in Alexa’s voice.  I wish Amazon told you which ones were audio files because her voice drones on after a while.  I hope I get to change her voice like I can with Siri.  Right now, you can just change the language to the English (UK) or German.
There is concern that conversations Alexa records between people could be used by Amazon for marketing purposes[81]. Privacy experts have expressed real concern about how marketing is getting involved in every stage of people’s lives without users noticing. This has necessitated the creation of regulations that can protect users' private information from technology companies.

Alexa supports a multitude of subscription-based and free streaming services on Amazon devices. These streaming services include: Prime Music, Amazon Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Audible, Pandora, and Spotify Premium. However, some of these music services are not available on other Alexa-enabled products that are manufactured by companies external of its services. This unavailability also includes Amazon's own Fire TV devices or tablets.[47]
Most devices with Alexa allow users to activate the device using a wake-word (such as Alexa); other devices (such as the Amazon mobile app on iOS or Android and Amazon Dash Wand) require the user to push a button to activate Alexa's listening mode. Currently, interaction and communication with Alexa are available only in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish,[4] Portuguese, Japanese, and Hindi.[5] In Canada, Alexa is available in English and in French (with the Québec accent).[6][7]
It's been a game changer!! My Dad struggled, even with the app on his phone to control the lights. Now that we have a Dot in his bedroom & an Echo & Dot in the living room, he's very easily learned how to ask Alexa to turn on the hallway light, his bedroom light when he's going to bed!! NO MORE STUMBLING AROUND IN THE DARK or trying to remember where he put his flashlight!!
The 2nd generation Echo has a 2.5” downward-firing woofer and 0.6” tweeter powered by Dolby to deliver crisp vocals and dynamic bass throughout the room. You can play music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, and more. With Amazon Music, you can search by lyrics, time-period, or let Alexa pick the music for you. Set a music alarm to wake up to your favorite song or playlist. You can also listen to audiobooks from Audible, podcasts, radio stations, news briefs, and more.
You can create a flash briefing skill if you own, or have the right to distribute, original text or audio content that updates frequently. You should understand web technologies and have the ability to configure HTTPS, RSS and/or JSON content. The voice interactions for a flash briefing skill are defined by Amazon, but you must be able edit the format of your content so that the flash briefing Skill API can understand it.
Amazon allows device manufacturers to integrate Alexa voice capabilities into their own connected products by using the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), a cloud-based service that provides APIs to interface with Alexa. Products built using AVS have access to Alexa's growing list of capabilities including all of the Alexa Skills. AVS provides cloud-based automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU). There are no fees for companies looking to integrate Alexa into their products by using AVS.[60]
The 2nd generation Echo has a 2.5” downward-firing woofer and 0.6” tweeter powered by Dolby to deliver crisp vocals and dynamic bass throughout the room. You can play music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, and more. With Amazon Music, you can search by lyrics, time-period, or let Alexa pick the music for you. Set a music alarm to wake up to your favorite song or playlist. You can also listen to audiobooks from Audible, podcasts, radio stations, news briefs, and more.

The next step in our Alexa flash briefing tutorial is to set up an Alexa skill for delivering the briefing. First, visit the Amazon Developer Console to create a new skill. Begin by giving it a name, then click “next.” You’ll be offered a selection of Alexa skill models to choose from. Select “flash briefing” from the list, then you’ll be met with a series of Alexa flash briefing options.
In September, 2019 Amazon launched many new devices achieving many records while competing with the world's smart home industry. The new Echo Studio became the first smart speaker with 360 sound and Dolby sound. Other new devices included an Echo dot with a clock behind the fabric, a new third-generation Amazon Echo, Echo Show 8, a plug-in Echo device, Echo Flex, Alexa built-in wireless earphones, Echo buds, Alexa built-in spectacles, Echo frames, an Alexa built-in Ring, and Echo Loop.
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