I’ve been thinking a bit about how Skype’s integration into Echo might play out or what it might signal for other integrations. When we had been working on the Ubi, we can considered Skype integration and there were a lot of hurdles to overcome. Skype’s API wasn’t really designed for headless interaction and it made working with the software very difficult. What we really needed was an API to call. For the brief moment that we had telephony integration on the Ubi, it was Twilio that had made the difference.
Even then, there were issues to overcome. The Ubi didn’t have duplexing capability so it lead to poor voice interaction. Likewise, far field microphones need to adjust for this interaction. The Echo and other devices might be suited for speech recognition but need to be reconfigured for telephony. Skype calls may have their own audio codecs to handle the voice quality vs ones that run native to the Echo.
Technical implementation aside, I’m wondering how and when Alexa calling and Skype might become available to third party AVS integrations and what might be the new requirements on the hardware to manage the interaction. Also, what about push to talk devices? Maybe they will be barred? Will devices be able to handle incoming calls?
Skype integration into Alexa might open the door for other communication apps to make their way. Facebook Messenger? WhatsApp? WeChat? Could they also be integrated?
The longer term play could be for Amazon to get us used to talking in realtime with people through the Echo or Alexa enabled devices. This way, it could control calls and contact and potentially roll out integrations to its own contact tools.