Alexa — “Works With” vs “Enabled”

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Doing a survey of devices available on for Alexa, you’ll see two types of devices:

  1. Devices that say they “Work with Alexa” or are “Alexa Compatible”.
  2. Devices that are “Alexa Enabled”

There are much more of (1) than (2). Why? Works with Alexa is very simple. If a device already exposes an API to query for information or actuate remotely, then the incremental work to get the API connected to Alexa Smart Home API or as an Alexa Skill is tiny compared to building an API.

If you’re a company with a device and an API, why are you waiting to create an Alexa Skill or Smart Home integration? It opens you up to the Amazon marketing engine.

For (2), this is complicated, especially when it comes to speakers. “Alexa Enabled” means that the device has embedded microphones and can be used like an Echo. The confusion among speakers is when they say they are “Alexa Compatible” meaning that they’re just Bluetooth speakers that can be an output for an Echo or another Alexa-enabled device or they can be targeted for audio streams for music initiated through another Alexa-enabled product, e.g. “Alexa, play In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida on my living room Bose speakers”.

If you’re looking at an Alexa experience that’s better than the Echo, then be aware of this wording.

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