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Alexa offers weather reports provided by AccuWeather and news provided by TuneIn from a variety of sources including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN. Additionally, Alexa-supported devices stream music from the owner's Amazon Music accounts and have built-in support for Pandora and Spotify accounts. Alexa can play music from streaming services such as Apple Music and Google Play Music from a phone or tablet. Alexa can manage voice-controlled alarms, timers, and shopping and to-do lists, and can access Wikipedia articles. Alexa devices will respond to questions about items in the user's Google calendar. As of November 2016, the Alexa Appstore had over 5,000 functions ("skills") available for users to download, up from 1,000 functions in June 2016.
Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon Lab126, made popular by the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot. It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, and other real time information, such as news. Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system. Most devices with Alexa allow users to activate the device using a wake-word (such as Echo); other devices (such as the Amazon app on iOS or Andriod) require the user to push a button to activate Alexa's listening mode. Currently, interaction and communication with Alexa is only available in English and German.
In November 2014, Amazon announced Alexa alongside Echo. Alexa was inspired by the computer voice and conversational system on board the starship Enterprise in science fiction TV series and movies, beginning with Star Trek TOS and Star Trek TNG. The name Alexa was chosen due to the fact that it has a hard consonant with the X and therefore could be recognized with higher precision. The name is also claimed to be reminiscent of the Library of Alexandria. In June 2015, Amazon announced Alexa Fund, a program that would invest in companies making voice control skills and technologies. The US$100M in funds has invested in companies including Ecobee, Orange Chef, Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, MARA, and Mojio. In 2016 the Alexa Prize was announced to advance the technology.Alexa offers weather reports provided by AccuWeather and news provided by TuneIn from a variety of sources including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN. Additionally, Alexa-supported devices stream music from the owner's Amazon Music accounts and have built-in support for Pandora and Spotify accounts.