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Amazon’s Alexa Sees Big Changes

March 19, 2018

Siri set the stage for voice assistants and AI, but Alexa from Amazon has since taken a step forward and stands among the front runners of this industry. This could be partially to do with the amount of upgrades and evolution the system has seen since its debut. For a closer look at some of what Amazon expects to do with Alexa in the near future, read on below.

Send Money with Alexa

One of the newest features to reach the voice prompted platform, Alexa, will have online bankers thrilled. Virginia based biometric software company, Daon, has been hard at work developing a way to transfer funds using Alexa. This will put Alexa a step ahead of the Google VA, Cash, which has yet to advance into the world of money transfers. Daon has a history of assisting large companies with upping their electronic banking game, including Mastercard, who used Daon’s services to polish its selfie pay app.

Alexa will partner with Daon and multiple banks across the U.S. later this year or possibly in the beginning of 2019 to bring this service live. Some credit cards already using Alexa skills include Capital One and AMEX. It looks like this new service could be a great step for Alexa, and as the VA platform grows, more companies are expected to get in at the ground level to reap the benefits.

Amazon, already noted as the top player in the ecommerce world, could see more advantage than any other company introducing a voice pay option, as their users can shop directly through them with this latest update. Using the Alexa pay feature, consumers can send money to friends, pay bills, and receive money from PayPal and Apple Pay.

The Ins and Outs of Alexa’s New Feature

Those worried about Alexa sending money to the wrong person or becoming an open threat to fraud and thievery can relax. It won’t be quite as easy as you think to transfer funds. Daon gave a demo and explained that when a user requests something from Alexa, such as, “Alexa, open my bank.” Alexa will prompt the user to express what he or she wants to use the bank app for, and then require authentication. The app uses a passcode or fingerprint to prove identity before going forward with any changes or transaction. Later, voice identification might be added to access accounts if Amazon chooses to go ahead with this change, which currently they do not support. To transfer money, a payee must first be manually added to your account before Alexa can access their information and send cash.

Make Calls with Alexa

Another change seen by Amazon’s voice assistant is that it can now make calls, send text messages, or video chat to your tablet. To access this feature, all device users, including iPads and Samsung tablets, will be required to install Alexa software. Alexa has supported video chat and calling in the past, but only on Amazon-based devices. This latest change will provide a more inclusive environment for mobile device users looking to connect.

For non-Amazon tablets to use this technology, mobile phone verification will be required, along with the uploading of a contact list to make and receive calls with.

Making calls will be easier for consumers using the latest model of a device on the market, because older devices have yet to be updated to run as cohesively. Older tablet models will need to visit their home screen before making an Alexa call. Newer models can make calls from any screen by accessing Alexa.

Alexa Gives Medical Advice

Wondering about health care or medical terminology? According to a recent online report, Alexa will be able to supply you with answers. Cigna, a U.S. based health services company, has partnered with Amazon to provide answers to more than a hundred and fifty different medical related queries. This Alexa skill is useful for those wondering about health care benefits and medical insurance coverage. It’s designed to break down this information and relay it in a convenient and easy to understand way.

The hope by many is that this will be a step closer to a more advanced form of digital medicine and medical related information for device users. Telemedicine has become a booming industry including various forms and methods of diagnosing and prescription services. While Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are yet to be outfitted with this type of technology, it could be a future possibility if things continue to progress the way that they are.

To use this latest feature offered by Cigna, Amazon Alexa users need only say, “Alexa, enable answers by Cigna.” This will activate the feature and allow Cigna technology to become alert and send answers to any questions users might have regarding medical care packages, including answers involving medical jargon and financial queries. Unfortunately, users won’t have access to personal information, although this could be an Alexa skill for the future if Cigna becomes interested in integrating this type of content into their program. For now, generic questions only can be answered through the skill.

Alexa has really taken the spotlight since the beginning of 2018, and Amazon has made it clear that the voice assistant will continue to see changes and upgrades throughout this year and next. You can follow along with Alexa specific upgrades through the Amazon news website, while Apple and Google promote their own products through separate channels.


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