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To fend off Google Home, Amazon lends Alexa and other AI superpowers to app developers

For a while, the tech world was reeling from the surprise hit of Amazon’s Echo device and its erudite voice assistant, Alexa. But Google Home, released in early November, has proven itself as a worthy contender when it comes to cost ($130 vs. $180) and compatibility (access to most of the web via Google Search and Chromecast vs. access to mostly Amazon-contained services). 

This morning, though, Amazon struck back by opening its AI engine—which of course includes Alexa—so that other developers on Amazon Web Services can build smart, machine-learning features into their own apps. At a broad level, this means Netflix, for example, could start using Alexa to talk with users in real time about what they feel like watching, or that Airbnb, another AWS customer, might enable users to find the perfect booking with just a few phrases. 

Google might be more integrated within the Internet than any other company, but now, with more than one million AWS customers at its disposal, Alexa isn’t too far behind.JJM