Amazon Lex lets developers add Alexa-style features to apps

Amazon Lex lets developers add Alexa-style features to apps Inc.’s chief technology officer is working toward a day when people can control almost any piece of software with their voice.

The company rolled out the technology powering Alexa, its voice assistant that competes with Apple Inc.’s Siri, to developers so they can build chat features into their own apps, CTO Werner Vogels said in an interview. The service, Amazon Lex, was in a preview phase since late 2016.

The move underscores how Amazon is racing to be the top player in voice-controlled computing, after losing out in mobile to Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

Vogels said that Amazon’s headway in processing how humans write and speak would make conversational assistants or “chatbots” more helpful than the clunky tools they’ve been in the past.

“There’s massive acceleration happening here,” he said before speaking at Amazon’s cloud-computing summit in San Francisco. “The cool thing about having this running as a service in the cloud instead of in your own data center or on your own desktop is that we can make Lex better continuously by the millions of customers that are using it.”

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