Amazon Alexa, known simply as Alexa, is a virtual assistant developed by Amazon, first used in the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers developed by Amazon Lab126. It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audio books, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news. Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system. Users are able to extend the Alexa capabilities by installing “skills” (additional functionality developed by third-party vendors, in other settings more commonly called apps such as weather programs and audio features).
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) require the user to push a button to activate Alexa’s listening mode. Currently, interaction and communication with Alexa are only available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese. In November 2017, Alexa became available in the Canadian market in English only.
As of September 2017, Amazon had more than 5,000 employees working on Alexa and related products. In January 2019, Amazon’s devices team announced that they had sold over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices