Amazon today announced the availability of Echosim.io, a website that simulates the capabilities of the Amazon Echo speaker, which employs Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant technology.
The thing about Alexa is that many people who don’t own the Echo — or its smaller siblings, the Tap and the Echo Dot — haven’t been able to see what Alexa is capable of. The new tool — which was inspired by the Alexa in the Browser application that Nexmo developer advocate Sam Machin came up with during a hackathon last year — solves that problem. All you have to do is head to the website, sign in with your Amazon credentials, and start holding your mouse down over the microphone button to see what Alexa can do.
It’s nifty for anyone to use, but it’s also potentially useful to developers. “Developers worldwide can use Echosim to experience Alexa,” Amazon Alexa developer marketing manager Glenn Cameron wrote in a blog post.
The introduction of the application is timely. Apple is preparing to release a Siri software development kit (SDK) that any developer will be able to tap so that Siri can do things with their applications — and Apple is even looking to enhance the Apple TV set-top box in order to turn it into an Echo competitor. Meanwhile, Amazon has also beaten Apple to bringing its assistant to the desktop — Siri is expected to make the jump to OS X soon.
Google has brought its speech recognition capability to the desktop, from its search engine to Google Docs, and now Google is also working on exposing its Google Assistant technology to third-party developers. People will be able to interact with the Google Assistant through the upcoming Google Home speaker, which will compete directly with Alexa.
“What’s your name?” I asked Alexa.
“My name is Alexa,” she said.