Amazon has added Alexa, the virtual assistant that powers its Echo connected speaker, to its shopping app on iOS.
This brings natural-language voice commands to the Amazon app, supporting a variety of purchase actions including "search for...", "reorder..." and "add ... to my cart". Customers can also ask Alexa to track recent orders, or play audiobooks or songs that the user has bought through Kindle or any of Amazon's music services.
As well as these directly shopping-related tasks, the in-app assistant will also offer Alexa's usual range of functionality, including news, traffic and weather updates.
The news comes as Amazon launches a program that offers developers promotional credit for building Alexa skills – the assistant's equivalent of apps, expanding its functionality to include third-part services – in Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Developers with a publisher skill can apply to receive $100 AWS credit, and a further $100 if they incur charges for exceeding the request or compute time limits of the service's free tier.
“There is already a large community of incredibly engaged developers building skills for Alexa,” said Steve Rabuchin, vice president, Amazon Alexa. “Today, we’re excited to announce a new program that will free up developers to create more robust and unique skills that can take advantage of AWS services. We can’t wait to see what developers create for Alexa.”