Have an Amazon Echo? Need an Uber ride? You can now use the former to get the latter.
Amazon's Echo, a cloud-connected wireless speaker that acts as your personal assistant via voice commands, now supports Uber, the ride-hailing service announced in a blog Friday. Instead of using the Uber mobile app to request a ride, you can just ask Alexa, Echo's voice assistant, to request that an Uber driver come pick you up.
The ability to hail Uber is just the latest feature to be added to the Echo, which can already play music, give you weather updates or tell you who's playing in the Super Bowl. The voice-controlled device is just one of a handful of digital assistants out there, including Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana.
You can hail your ride on the Echo using specific voice commands such as "Alexa, ask Uber to get me a ride" or "Alexa, order me an Uber." You can also find out when your ride will arrive by saying, "Alexa, how far away is my Uber?" Alexa will also reportedly accept more generic commands such as "Get me a taxi" or "Call me a ride," since the device will associate taxis and rides specifically with Uber as a result of the new integration.
Echo is Amazon's attempt to take advantage of the growing interest in using your voice to control devices in your home as well as outside services. Some other things you can do with the Echo include searching for information, checking your calendar appointments, getting traffic reports, listening to the latest news and sports scores, setting up alarms and to-do lists and controlling certain smart-home appliances.
In a bid to outdo Siri and Cortana, Amazon Echo has been teaming up with more outside services lately. The device now supports Spotify's paid premium version, so you can fire up your favorite tunes and playlists by telling Alexa to play a specific artist, album or song.
Want some food to accompany your music? Through Echo, you can also order pizza or check on a delivery courtesy of the new integration with food chain Domino's. Just ask Alexa something like "Order me a large pizza from Domino's," and the pie will arrive at your door.
To enable services to work with Echo, you first have to tie your Echo account into your profile with the specific service itself. For example, to use Uber with your Echo, you first set your Echo's location in the Settings section of your Alexa smartphone app. Then you turn on the Uber skill in the Skills section of the app where you link your Uber account, according to Uber's blog post.
Echo's advantage is that it directly supports specific services, so your voice command can be simple and succinct. Voice assistants such as Siri and Cortana may be more versatile but they often require more steps to perform specific actions and don't always understand what you're asking.