Not only did Alexa dominate the smart speaker space in 2017, you're going to see (and hear) Amazon's voice assistant in a lot of new and unexpected places in 2018.
Taylor MartinCNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
It's time to stop thinking of Alexa as just the brains of a speaker and more as an omnipresent system that's about to further infiltrate your home, car, pockets and ears. Here are eight new places you can expect to see Alexa later this year, as well as the new ground she covered in 2017.
Editors' note: Originally published January 9, 2017, this article has been updated to include new devices and services that will include Alexa in 2018.
New Alexa devices
Showtime for Amazon's new Alexa touchscreen speaker
Last year, Amazon has significantly expanded its lineup of Alexa-powered speakers and devices. In 2016, we had the Echo, Echo Dot, a second-generation Echo Dot and the Amazon Tap. It also added Alexa capabilities to Fire tablets (fourth-generation and newer) and the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Then, in 2017, Amazon released a staggering seven new Alexa devices:
There has yet to be any word yet of upcoming hardware from Amazon, but as willing as the company is to experiment with Alexa, it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect some smaller devices (more like the Echo Look or Dash Wand) that incorporate Alexa in some way. Since the lineup was stacked in late 2017 and Alexa devices are on a slower refresh cycle, however, we may not see new Alexa speakers in 2018.
What we are certain of, however, is new Alexa integrations from other manufacturers.
and BMW announced plans to incorporate Alexa into the infotainment systems in the dashes of upcoming cars in 2017. Such integration would allow users to lock and unlock their car using their voice, honk the horn, get status updates on the vehicle and more, as well as all of the standard functions of Alexa. Inrix will also be integrating Alexa into its OpenCar platform.
Seiki, Westinghouse and Element all announced televisions with the Fire TV system built in last year, as well as remotes with microphones to interact with Alexa. Dish also announced a Hopper DVR box that came with voice-controlled channel surfing, powered by none other than Alexa.
Lat year, in an unlikely move, Amazon and Microsoft announced a partnership to make their respective digital assistants more powerful. Alexa and Cortana will work together to help tackle user commands more effectively. Users will be able to issue Alexa commands through Cortana by saying, "Hey Cortana, open Alexa." Likewise, users can talk to Cortana through Alexa by saying, "Alexa, open Cortana."
Since this partnership was announced back in August, few specifics were given and not much else had been said about the integration. We now know that select Acer Aspire, Spin, Switch and Swift models will receive Alexa sometime in Q1 2018, with wider support to follow later in the year. Asus ZenBook and VivoBook
will receive Alexa sometime in 2018, and the HP Pavillion Wave will come with Alexa built-in.
Forget Google Glass, Vuzix just announced Alexa-powered glasses. The bulky Vuzix Blade projects a heads-up display (HUD) onto the lenses, has a touch pad and will let you talk to Amazon's assistant.
Last year, Ecobee wanted to build Alexa straight into the walls of your home with the Smart Light Switch. The switch never actually launched in 2017, though -- Ecobee opened pilot testing to select individuals. But it's not going to be the only company with an Alexa-powered light switch.
brand iDevices announced the Instinct, to be released later this year.
Kohler announced a smart mirror, called the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror. It has an Alexa speaker built-in, as well as lights, so you can see yourself while you talk to your favorite digital assistant. Along the bottom of the mirror are touch controls for volume and light. Pricing wasn't announced, but the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror is expected to release in March.
New product integrations
While all the above products have Alexa built-in, there are plenty of other products that simply work with Alexa. Below are some of the ones announced so far:
Delta is making connected faucets that will let you use your voice to turn on or off the faucet, change the temperature of the water or pour a specific amount.
Moen announced the U by Moen Smart Shower will add support for both Alexa and Siri (HomeKit) so you can turn on the shower and heat it to the perfect temperature before you ever step into the bathroom.
The Somfy Outdoor Camera is an Alexa-compatible (it also works with Google Home, HomeKit and IFTTT) camera that will launch in the US in Q4 2018.
GE Appliances announced Kitchen Hub, a 27-inch touchscreen that replaces the range hood. It has a front-facing camera built-in for video calls, as well as a downward facing camera so you can take pictures of your food as you cook. Like other GE appliances, the Kitchen Hub will work with Alexa.
New territory for Alexa in 2017
CES 2017 was huge for Alexa, as well. Here are many of the firsts for Alexa from last year.
At CES 2017, the standout Alexa device was easily the LG Smart InstaView Refrigerator. It's a fridge equipped with a 29-inch touchscreen which, through Alexa integration, lets you order groceries with just your voice.
We've come to expect Alexa to control your smart home devices, but the latest thermostat from Ecobee, the Ecobee4, is the first smart thermostat to come with Alexa built in. It has all the normal smart thermostat functions, but instead of simply integrating with Alexa, it is itself a full-fledged Alexa speaker.
Another smart home device bearing Amazon's Alexa is the GE Sol, a smart table lamp. The Sol comes with full Alexa support, meaning it gives you access to over 30,000 skills and any commands that work with a standard Alexa speaker. But being directly integrated with Alexa will give it some additional tricks, such as lighting up to show analog time around the light ring.
While Alexa has existed on both Android and iOS in an array of third-party applications,
is the first to build Alexa directly into a phone's software with the
. You have access to Alexa on the Mate 9 just as you would
on an iPhone or
Assistant on virtually any Android phone, and you will be able to order pizzas, call an Uber, control your smart home and anything else you typically do with an Alexa speaker.
And if you happen to have a bunch of devices to charge at night, the Dok Talk will charge up to five USB devices and act as a Bluetooth speaker, and it has a button on the top that will queue up Alexa.
Phones aren't the only personal devices that got some Alexa love. Smartwatch manufacturers have sought to add Amazon's assistant software to your wrist for some time now. Martian added Alexa to mVoice and Guess watches, and the iMCO and CoWatch watches also have Alexa built in.
Amazon Shopping app
Watch this: How to use Alexa on your iPhone
Back in March 2017, Amazon updated the Amazon Shopping app for iOS and was later added to the Android app. The update replaced the standard voice search with Alexa, making it possible to stream audiobooks or music, ask for weather or news and use a number of skills, all while using the Amazon app.
Just tap the microphone button to the right of the search bar and speak to the phone as you would any Alexa speaker. You can control smart home devices, ask Alexa to tell you a joke or ask for tracking updates for your packages.
Taking the voice assistant integration one step further is Sensory, the company behind the hands-free voice control software found on some Samsung Galaxy smartphones. Instead of embedding Alexa in a device in your pocket, it integrated it into one you stick in your ear. Sensory is calling the technology VoiceGenie, which will allow you to access Alexa (and other voice assistant services like Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana) through Bluetooth headphones.
Similarly, the ONvocal OV, which looks like a mashup of LG Tones and the Plantronics Voyager of yore, is a set of earbuds with Alexa built in that sells for $399 (converted, about £295 or AU$500).
If it makes perfect sense to embed a voice assistant in a speaker, it makes just as much -- if not more -- to embed that same assistant in a baby monitor. That's exactly what Nabi did with the Aristotle.
This baby monitor will lull your child to sleep, log wet diapers and feedings, automatically order more diapers or other supplies, play games and interact with your kid, read children's books and much more. On top of that, it's a fully functioning Amazon Alexa speaker that works exactly as you would expect it to.
While the Aristotle is powered by Alexa, it also has a secondary assistant, which you summon by saying, "Aristotle."
Thanks to the Ubtech Robotics Lynx, Alexa has sprouted arms, legs and a face. You can interact with the humanoid the way you could normally with Alexa, but using cameras, it can recognize your face or give you a remote view of your home.
The Hubble Hugo, while also a robotic version of Alexa, wears many hats. It can act as a baby monitor, aiming to read your child's emotions and playing a song to soothe them. With motion detection, 360-degree camera rotation and expandable storage, it works as a security camera, as well.
Watch this: Let Alexa teach you Yoga with Ubtech's Lynx