Mobile technology is bigger than ever these days, and tech experts expect there to be about 2.08 billion smartphone users worldwide by the time 2016 comes to a close. One common feature that companies are including in mobile devices is the voice-controlled assistant, such as Apple’s Siri. A voice-controlled assistant can take basic commands and perform simple functions on the smartphone, like sending a text, making a call or looking up information on the internet. Amazon recently announced that they are coming out with a new version of their smart tablet called the Fire HD 8 that will have Amazon’s own voice-controlled assistant, Alexa, included on it.
What Is Alexa?
Alexa is the voice-controlled assistant that is included in the company’s Echo smart speaker. Inside the Echo device, which is installed in a person’s home, Alexa can do things like stream music, read you the news headlines, report weather, set timers and alarms, control smart appliances (like lamps, thermostats and more), and answer questions by looking up them on a search engine. However, while Alexa is a well-known and popular service within the Echo, the assistant has never been incorporated into a mobile device before — so experts are not completely sure what its capabilities will be.
The New Fire HD 8
Amazon is updating the current Fire tablet they offer, also called the Fire HD 8. The new version is the same size as the previous device, but it has 50 percent more RAM in it. It also has doubled base storage and longer battery life. However, the most significant way the device will differ from previous tablets is that it will have Alexa in it.
Alexa on Mobile
Here’s a rundown of some of the things you can expect from Alexa on the Fire HD 8:
It will be similar to Alexa on Echo.
Amazon announced that Alexa on the Fire HD 8 will do much of what it already does on Echo. It will be able to read headlines, tell jokes, set alarms, call Ubers and more.
It will use cards to display information.
Alexa will use “cards” to display information on the tablet (e.g., if you ask for the weather in New York, it will show you a box on your screen that includes the weather information).
It does not have far-field speakers.
When Alexa is used on an Echo in a home, it can pick up commands from across the room using far-field speakers. The Fire tablet will not have far-field speakers, so users will have to speak into the microphone.
It is activated with the home button.
In order to access Alexa on the Fire HD 8, users will have to press the home button on the tablet. That will get the assistant going — and then users will be able to give it commands.