You already talk to Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant embedded in the company’s Echo speaker, every day. And now you can ask Alexa to order your Lyft ride, without lifting a finger.
Lyft and Amazon announced Tuesday that you can ask the voice-controlled smart home device to call your Lyft, Lyft Line, or a larger Plus vehicle. Lyft is following Uber’s lead, which integrated with Amazon Echo earlier this year but doesn’t currently allow users to call shared UberPool rides via Alexa. The two largest ride-hail companies in the U.S. are in a fierce competition to retain drivers and riders, so they often match each other’s offerings.
Through Alexa, you can request Lyft rides, ask for estimated arrival times and trip times, get fare quotes, or check for Prime Time (Lyft’s version of surge-pricing). You can also rate and tip drivers and save work and home addresses so you can simply say, “Alexa, ask Lyft to call a Line to work.”
For ride-hail companies, adding the ability to call cars through virtual assistants is part of their efforts to seamlessly mesh into their users’ lives. Lyft also plans to integrate with Siri in the fall. (Apple announced at its annual World Wide Developers Conference earlier this month that it would soon open up Siri to third-party app developers.)
Amazon is also pushing to make its already popular Echo device a fixture in more homes by expanding Alexa’s skills and services. In just the last month, developers have integrated more products with Alexa, growing the virtual assistant’s number of skills by 50% to 1,400, according to Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa.
Roy Williams, a software engineer at Lyft who developed the Alexa project, told BuzzFeed News, “I’m someone who’s always running late, so being able to call a car, or ask where my car is, or see if it’s Prime Time now without having to pick up my phone was really interesting,”.
Williams and his team also had a little fun by programming some “Easter eggs” into the software. Just try asking Alexa what color Lyft’s mustache is, and if Alexa likes self-driving cars. Or even ask Alexa what we do on Wednesdays: “On Wednesdays, we wear pink.”