While Amazon hasn’t officially launched its Australian website yet, it has officially confirmed that its Alexa Smart Assistant will be coming to Australia and New Zealand early next year.
Alexa is the brain that powers Amazon Echo— she answers questions, plays music, reads audiobooks, turns the lights on and off, gives you sports scores and more and she’s heading down under.
“The customer response to Alexa and Echo has been incredibly positive, and we’re excited to make them available for our Australian and New Zealand customers early next year,” says Toni Reid, vice president of Amazon Alexa.
Additionally, Reid has confirmed that Amazon will be expanding Alexa’s skill set to be tailored for Australian and New Zealand consumers. “We also look forward to helping new and existing developers create innovative Alexa experiences for customers by expanding the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service to Australia and New Zealand.”
Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo is what has helped popularise smarthome technology in the US, where close to 19 million units have been sold, according to Morning Consultant. The Echo Dot, which is Echo’s smaller version, was in fact the top-selling item during this year’s Black Friday sales, with millions being purchased over the weekend and on Cyber Monday as well.
Amazon’s Alexa operates similarly to Google’s home assistant, Google Home, which made its way to Australia in July. With Alexa’s far-field voice control, customers can order products from Amazon through Echo’s internet-connected speakers, use it to update their calendars, read the news, stream music and even turn their smarthome appliances like air conditioners and coffee machines on and off, via voice command which is effective from across the room. Regarding music, Echo’s launch in Australia will coincide with Amazon launching Amazon Music Unlimited, due to be introduced in 2018.
Here are a few things users can ask Echo to do:
Alexa, set the timer for 20 minutes.
Alexa, what’s traffic like right now?
Alexa, turn on my humidifier. Or kitchen light
Alexa, how many calories are in a chocolate covered doughnut?
Alexa, forget the wine. Order me some coffee from Starbucks.
Alexa, reorder cat food and washing powder.
Alexa, read my book.
Alexa, read me the news.
With the expansion into Australia and New Zealand, Alexa will bring an all-new voice designed for local customers, with local knowledge and skills. To date, the list of local companies providing Alexa with skills at launch include: Qantas, Uber, Spotify, Sky News, Australia, Fox Sports, Taste.com.au, Coastalwatch, to name a few.
At present, the only way for local adopters of Amazon Echo in Australia to use the device at home is to buy the device online from overseas and then spoofing their location to be the US or UK as the app isn’t currently available here.