Amazon’s digital assistant a holiday hit

As an avid sports fan, you crave the latest scores and news. Or perhaps you want to know how much a flight to a sunny destination will cost or simply want to know where to find the nearest ATM. You can find out the answers to those questions and countless more by asking Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated digital assistant, available in Canada since Dec. 5.

Alexa was well-used this holiday season, helping mix tens of thousands of cocktails, with martini and Manhattan the most request drinks, Amazon Canada reports. Chocolate chip cookies was the most requested recipe and Jingle Bells the most requested song. Alexa customers turned on their holiday lights more than a million times and asked for tens of millions of jokes this holiday season.

Alexa has more than 15,000 “skills,” which work similarly to apps on a smartphone. A growing number of companies have developed skills for the assistant. Sports fans with an Alexa device, for example, can select theScore as their flash briefing and ask, ‘Alexa – what’s in the news?’ to receive a comprehensive audio sports briefing.

Air Canada, the first Canadian airline to develop a skill for Alexa, will enable the digital assistant to provide fare quotes and tell travellers the status of their flight and which baggage carousel to go to pick up baggage after a flight. The BMO skill gives customers access to such information as nearby ATM locations and current foreign exchange rates.

Alexa is available on a host of Amazon products, along with products developed by smart-services companies, such as Sonos and some smartphone developers. Amazon Devices posted its best holiday yet, with tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices sold worldwide.

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