Wearable devices, particularly smartwatches, have grown in popularity in recent years. To put this into context, Amazon has seen more than a 70 percent increase in the number of registered users for wearables with Alexa year over year.
Using the Alexa Watch App for Wear OS, developers can bring customers the simple, hands-free experience of using voice intelligence on their wearable devices like smartwatches.
Common reasons people buy smartwatches
As segment head for Alexa on-the-go devices, Sanjay Kalyanasundaram’s team works on creating ambient experiences that are relevant and useful to customers on a smartwatch.
“We are focused on so much more than the talking to Alexa piece,” says Kalyanasundaram. “Instead, we want Alexa to function as an invisible, intelligent and valuable personal assistant. It’s all about creating experiences that are both proactive and personal. For example, if a smartwatch customer is near a store that has their favorite brand in stock, Alexa will offer that insight to the customer.”
According to Kalyanasundaram, many customers buy smartwatches and other wearables for fitness-related reasons.
“One of the the primary drivers for customers is to monitor their health and achieve their fitness objectives,” says Kalyanasundaram. “Most watches have sensors or applications that facilitate tracking and attaining health and wellness goals.”
Fitbit—one of Alexa’s first wearable partners—is a great example of a brand that helps customers stay aware of their movement and meet their goals to reach a certain number of steps per day.
People also buy smartwatches to be able to disengage from their phones while still being able to respond quickly and simply to notifications. “Users don’t want to look at their phone all the time; it’s a rabbit hole,” says Kalyanasundaram. “A watch is the ideal surface for receiving and responding to a notification without being distracted.”
Finally, people buy smartwatches to take care of simple tasks like receiving and making phone calls, playing music, and more.
“You might think of a watch as a single-function product—often for fitness—but in reality, when customers go on a run, there are other things that they want to do,” says Kalyanasundaram. “Experiences related to music and communications are being shifted to the watch in one cogent surface, which our customers find incredibly useful.”
A smartwatch is an ideal device for using voice instead of touch commands. Using Alexa on a smartwatch means that customers can perform many of their usual mobile tasks—from controlling smart home devices to asking questions to making calls—in a natural and intuitive way by using just their voice.
Amazon launched the Alexa Watch App for Wear OS in 2022 to allow customers to access all of their favorite Alexa features such as asking questions, tracking Amazon orders, controlling their smart home, and even making calls. Wearable manufacturers such as Fossil have directly integrated Alexa into their smartwatch experience, making it even more simple for users to discover and use voice commands to fulfill their tasks.
Kalyanasundaram points to three reasons why he believes device makers should work with Amazon to bring Alexa to life on smartwatches:
1. Drive demand through better customer discovery
Smartwatches that have Alexa Built-in can attract customers who already use and are familiar with Alexa. Displaying an Alexa Built-In badge on the box or on the Amazon product page can help customers discover your product on Amazon’s web and mobile properties.
“Customers who are searching for ‘Alexa smartwatches’ on Amazon’s web and mobile properties can find your product, and the affinity marketing can give your wearable an advantage over competing products,” says Kalyanasundaram.
For example, the Fossil Gen 6 Smartwatch offers customers an option to purchase an Alexa Built-in model, making it simpler for shoppers to differentiate this smartwatch from other brands that might not have Alexa preloaded on their devices.
2. Simplicity of development
Building with Alexa makes it simple for manufacturers to implement a voice interface on their devices. Rather than having to spend time developing their own intelligent services, developers can enjoy all of the innovations that come with Alexa Watch App for Wear OS.
The application enables manufacturers to provide compelling voice experiences. The app also gives device makers the ability to facilitate multi-modal interactions.
“If a customer is in a public place and doesn’t want to dictate a private message or make a call, for example, the watch displays visual and haptic responses,” says Kalyanasundaram. “All these capabilities are integrated with the application, easing the burden on developers.”
The Alexa infrastructure continues to improve, and more features and capabilities are being developed all the time. Developers don’t need to re-release a device for customers to take advantage of the latest updates and capabilities because these are automatically made available.
3. Access diversified revenue streams
Device manufacturers can utilize Alexa to diversify their revenue streams. For example, device manufacturers can provide customers with the ability to subscribe to premium features on the go via voice, without a computer or phone.
“Brands and device makers are under intense pressure to successfully move from a one-time transaction model to a recurrent subscription model,” says Kalyanasundaram. “With Alexa, brands are able to develop customer experiences that enable them to tap into a recurring and predictable revenue base, while at the same time also being able to form long-term and more fulfilling relationships with their customers.”
Alexa provides several developer tools to help wearable developers get started. Alexa integrations can be delivered to a smartwatch through the Alexa Watch App for Wear OS, or using just the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) software development kit (SDK), or by using Alexa Mobile Assistant (AMA) Protocol and the VOX SDK to pair the smartwatch with the Alexa Mobile Assistant. These various tools provide developers many opportunities to deliver a compelling voice assistant experience on a watch.
“We are optimizing our developer tools for creating an amazing smartwatch experience, depending on the smartwatch type, processor type, and the software on the watch” says Kalyanasundaram. “We encourage our developers to come in and explore, discover, and build the next generation of wearable experiences.”