Following its accidental reveal of a newer, cheaper version of its Alexa-powered Echo Dot speaker on Monday, Amazon this morning announced new numbers detailing the rapid growth of its Alexa “app store,” which it calls the “Skills” section in its Alexa app. The company says the selection of these voice-activated apps has grown by 3x since June, and now includes over 3,000 skills.
Skills are what Amazon calls the optional features consumers can add to their Alexa-powered devices, like the Amazon Echo speaker or its smaller counterparts, the Dot or Tap, for example, as well as third-party devices that have integrated with Amazon’s voice computing platform.
In addition, thanks to a recent snafu by the retailer’s social media team, it appears Amazon will soon launch a new Echo Dot speaker at a lower price point. The company on Monday accidentally tweeted about a new, $49.99 “all-new” Echo Dot, then quickly deleted the tweet.
The speaker, which first launched this March, originally cost $89.99 and has been sold out since July.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s app store for Alexa has been expanding at a fast pace since the Echo’s debut, thanks not only to the growing line of Alexa devices and their affordable price points, but also because consumers are becoming more interested in voice computing services for their homes.
The company also gave its app store a big makeover in June to better feature this growing selection of skills, and now organizes the add-ons by category, and offers sections like “customer favorites,” trending skills, and others.
What makes Alexa interesting is its expandable nature – it’s not limited to playing music, controlling smart home devices, answering questions and performing various other tasks. Instead, developers can use Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to integrate their own apps and services with the platform.
That means you can do things like hear the latest news from your favorite publisher, ask for car from a ride-hailing service to come and pick you up, order a pizza, and more.
In June, Amazon had announced it had reached over 1,000 skills – which was up from just 135 in January. Since Echo’s launch, a number of bigger-name brands have rolled out their own Alexa apps, too, including Uber, Fitbit, Domino’s, Kayak, as well as a large selection of major media publishers like CNET, AP, NPR, The Economist, BBC, NBC, CNN, ESPN, and others, plus numerous smart home device makers, and most recently Twitter.
Today, Food Network and GE Appliances (for voice-controlled kitchens) are joining the group. Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football, Bloomberg and What to Expect When Expecting are arriving by month’s end, Amazon notes.