Many believe that voice-activated technology is the next big thing in tech. Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Echo ($179), are growing in popularity, as more and more people see the practicality with these platforms. The platform allows you to control, via voice commands, all sorts of different functions and apps, such as Spotify, TVs and entertainment systems, room lighting, grocery lists, and many more.
One aspect of Alexa is something known as “skills.” These skills are a growing library of third-party voice apps that teach Alexa a new trick and there are currently over 10,000 skills today. Some of these skills appear pretty useless and make up a lot of filler but there are many that are quite practical and can make your life easier. Apps that do things like record/log every song you listen to, allow you to lock-up your doors at night, and notify you when your sports teams are playing all seem like little things that can make your life a little easier.
And now some apps are getting into the credit card and travel worlds. For example, Capital One has a skill that allows you to monitor your credit card balance and make payments. The travel website Kayak allows you to browse for airline and hotel prices by asking Alexa a question. You can also order Uber rides and even check some airport security lines wait times by asking things like, “Alexa, ask Security Line what is the wait time at SFO terminal 2?”
One of the newest skills is offered by United Airlines and allows you to check your flight status and even check-in for your flights (the flights must be domestic, however).
United Airlines vice president of digital products and analytics Praveen Sharma stated, “[i]ntroducing the new skill to check in and receive flight information with Alexa is an innovation that gives our customers extra time to prep for a business meeting, play with their children or relax as they get ready for their upcoming flight.”
This is a nice perk but not something I’d consider revolutionary, as it takes all of two seconds to check-in to a flight via the app. However, it’s nice to see the Alexa skill set growing, since I believe the ultimate goal is to have a platform that assists its users in all aspects of their life in order to streamline day-to-day functions. Maybe one day we’ll be able to use Alexa to scan for AAdvantage awards by the hour….