Amazon's Alexa voice assistant arrives on Fire tablets

October 26, 2016 by Anick Jesdanun
This undated file image provided by Amazon shows color options of the new Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet. Amazon's Fire tablets are getting the Alexa voice assistant. The previously announced feature will start rolling out to customers Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. It's meant to complement what users get on other Alexa devices, such as the Echo speaker. Through voice commands, users can get the news read out to them or listen to music from services such as Amazon Music or Pandora. (Amazon via AP, File)

Amazon's Fire tablets are getting the Alexa voice assistant.

The previously announced feature will start rolling out to customers Wednesday. It's meant to complement what users get on other Alexa devices, such as the Echo speaker. Through voice commands, users can get the news read out to them or listen to music from services such as Amazon Music or Pandora.

The Fire tablets will go beyond Echo by offering full-screen cards with additional details. For instance, when you ask for the weather, Alexa will speak out the current temperature and offer the day's forecast, just as she does on Echo. But the visual card will also display the week's forecast. For news and music, the card offers playback control such as pausing and skipping.

For those with both Fire and Echo, making a request on Echo will trigger the Fire's screen to turn on and present the detailed cards, as long as a Voicecast feature is enabled through the Alexa app.

Amazon says Alexa will differ from Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant in being designed for tablets first, rather than phones. That means focusing on tasks typically done at home, such as entertainment, recipes and timers. For tasks on the go, such as finding nearby restaurants, Alexa performs a standard web search or directs you to the Alexa app. Apple and Google have special interfaces with restaurant ratings, price ranges and more, and both integrate that information into their chat apps, too.

Although the overall tablet market has been slumping, Amazon.com Inc. has managed to stay strong by slashing prices and encouraging people to buy more than one. Its bare-bones base model costs just $49. Last month, Amazon introduced a new 8-inch tablet for $90, down from $150 for similar models in the past.

So far, Amazon is avoiding business-oriented tablets such as Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface. Aaron Bromberg, a senior product manager for Fire tablets, said that while such devices work well as laptop replacements, "we also see an awful lot of people that want tablets to use around the house for entertainment."

"We see the market kind of dividing a bit," he said.

Explore further: Amazon slashes price, adds Alexa to new Fire tablet

Related Stories

Amazon slashes price, adds Alexa to new Fire tablet

September 8, 2016

Amazon wants to be under the Christmas tree this year. It's cut the price of its new Fire tablet almost in half and added its popular voice assistant, Alexa, in hopes of making it a hot holiday item, despite a slump in overall ...

Recommended for you

On-chip, electronically tunable frequency comb

March 18, 2019

Lasers play a vital role in everything from modern communications and connectivity to bio-medicine and manufacturing. Many applications, however, require lasers that can emit multiple frequencies—colors of light—simultaneously, ...

Alligator study reveals insight into dinosaur hearing

March 18, 2019

To determine where a sound is coming from, animal brains analyze the minute difference in time it takes a sound to reach each ear—a cue known as interaural time difference. What happens to the cue once the signals get to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.