Amazon is working hard to make Alexa more contextual, so that it can know more about you and be even more helpful. As we head into the holidays, Amazon also wants Alexa to help you better use your time.
So the company has announced a batch of new upgrades for Alexa. It now has the ability to tell you when you have free time in your busy schedule, integrate your calendar into Routines and there's a new Reminders API that lets third parties plug into Alexa's reminders.
Read this: How to use Alexa Routines
The first one is pretty simple. You can ask Alexa things like "when do I have free time this weekend?" or "when do I have thirty minutes available on Tuesday" and Alexa will search through your calendar and tell you available times. Then you can schedule meetings or a day to go shopping for Christmas presents.
Calendars can now plug into Routines as actions, too. There are two ways to do this. The first way is by scheduling a time in your calendar. So every day at 8am, Alexa can spring to life and tell you about what events you've got coming up for the day. Or, you can package it in with your current Routine. So if you say "Alexa, good morning" it can go through the news, the weather and then top it off with the events of your day.
Then there's the Reminders API. This will let developers to tap into Alexa's reminders ability to help you keep track of important things. For example, American Express could tap into it to remind you when your credit card payment is due.
It's not just about payments though. Kayak's skill utilizes the API to remind you when your flight is, while the NHL skill will tell you when your favorite team is about to play. There are a couple of launch partners: the NHL and Kayak in the US, TV Guide in the UK and Carada in Japan, with more coming later this year.
The Reminders API is also coming to Alexa Skill Blueprints so that regular folks like you and me can use it to do cool things. Like reminding you of daily chores or pairing it up with local search - which is coming soon - so that you can be reminded of when your favorite store or restaurant is closing.