Amazon's launch in Australia had a few Road bumps along the way, With false starts eventually making an Underwhelming catalogue. But the online retail giant did promise. Bring its own smart AI assistant. To Aussie Shores. In early 2018. That promise has been kept. With the echo range. Available in stores and online and with comes Australia's own true blue Alexa. While the echo range was the same physically as the American line, it was the ai assistant software that makes the unit unique to the Australian culture.
The Australian Amazon Alexa app launched in the past week, and the Amazon Alexa software was a major letdown for many, first off and not a huge issue is that Alexa has lost her bubbly sing-song voice, and now speaks in a thicker “more Aussie” accent. Which frankly sounds like an insult to many Australians, unless you sound like an 'ocker' computer. Alexa's Australian voice doesn't sound quite as natural as Google's, especially on the tiny Echo Dot which falls significantly short of the Google Home Mini when it comes to sound quality.
The biggest problem that many early users have though is the LACK OF SUPPORT, AND COMPATIBILITY Australia has received for Alexa. While it does feature a long list of Australian companies and websites that Alexa can connect to, which is excellent for weather recipes or news, the list of compatible devices skills … TINY!
For the company that single handly fueled the smart assistant and voice-controlled market in the states, and with significant competition from Google beating them to market on our shores, the smart devices companies that many consumers around the world turn to are nowhere to be seen.
It has not been announced why Amazon was unable to get more well-known companies to be ready launch day, but an unofficial source within Amazon told About Automation that they plan to release those skills at a later stage. “With more skills to be built on and release, and to expect an update to the skills list in the coming weeks”. To understand where I am coming from with this, let me list you all the “smart Home” Skills Alexa Aus can currently use.
Telstra Smart Home
Koogeek smark Home (not work with p2)
Neo smart Blinde controller
Vertilux Shades (VTi Celtic Motors)
Lanbon Smart Living
SSG Smart Home
B One VoiceAct
AND THAT'S IT!!!!!!
Brands we want and need are ones like Samsung SmartThings, Wemo, Nest, Osram, eWeLink. I could go on, but I won't bore you. Personally, I find this a significant let down however you can not wholly blame Amazon for this, but with reliable companies like Amazon and Samsung, you do expect a bit more readiness for a major product launch.
There is also small let downs when you compare Alexa to the well established U.S AI Software. For instance, the Australian software can keep a shopping list, but they can't purchase directly from Amazon (yet). Nor can they control Amazon's Fire Stick for streaming, This combined with the lack of skill to recognise different users by voice. The average consumer would seem to think that Amazon is still treating Australia as a second-rate country, which does appear to be the leading reason why we are not on par with the US or even the UK technology market. Large companies just seem to think we don't want or need it. With companies like Google, we ahead of this curve, however still fail to provide the services they do to other countries, but beating Amazon to market for home assistant hardware has already given Google a big head start.
Now on to what the Alexa Australian Software CAN do…
for music streaming, you have a choice of iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Spotify and the newly released Amazon Music Unlimited. The echo dot, in particular, doesnt have a powerful sound like the Google home devices. However, All the Echo speakers have an impressive trick up their sleeve: the ability to connect to an external speaker via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio cable.
Like Google, you can create routines such as “Alexa, good morning” or “Alexa, I'm home” to trigger a string of smart home commands. This will prove to be a favourite set up for many smart homes.
If all this bad talk from many reviews and news outlets is dragging you down, or you already have an Alexa device and are sick of asking what the weather is like? Or to tell you a joke. There is hope yet.
The good news is as mentioned before amazon echo devices are identical to the units sold in America. It's just the software that changes its compatibility. The way it tells what country you are is far more straightforward than it seems, for now, if you which to continue to use American Alexa software you can follow this guide to switch countries software.
So your smart home can continue to function until the skills are more readily available in australia.