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Few people are actually using Amazon’s Alexa to shop on Amazon

Amazon Alexa questions

British consumers are buying technology with embedded voice assistants and asking it do things like … help them boil an egg.

That’s one of the somewhat surprising and totally British findings in a survey of more than 1,000 owners of smart speakers in the U.K. that was commissioned by digital agency Code Computerlove. Among the results: One in five users, almost 20 percent, asks cutting-edge technology like Amazon’s Alexa for help with said egg-boiling.

Another surprising finding: Since these are British users we’re talking about, the right way to say this is that almost one in 10 users talk to their voice assistant while on the loo.

“Unsurprisingly,” according to this recap of the study, “the most popular use was to play music or the radio (65%) and half of owners use them for news and weather reports. Other common uses include travel updates (16.2%) and playing audiobooks/podcasts (8.2%). Interestingly, only seven per cent of users have ever bought anything via their smart speaker.”

Here’s a link to the study’s results. Plenty of other users — 21 percent — ask for help telling jokes. If you’ve never heard Alexa’s joke-telling skills, you get things like: “Alexa, I’ve got 99 problems.” And she responds back with, “But a glitch ain’t one.”

In addition to probing the heart of darkness that is Alexa’s deep wellspring of dad humor, the survey also found 10 percent of users ask their virtual assistants for helpful tips on how to flirt and date. Other users reported being interested in using their voice assistant to help them learn a second language.

Combined, the survey shows what you’d expect — that most people see these devices as high-tech personal assistants with a narrow but fast-growing skill set.

Code Computerlove’s study, meanwhile, is a complement of sorts to earlier research from the firm which found, among other things, that voice assistants were among the technology consumers were most interested in trying out this year. And that’s a trend that’s set to continue in a big way.

According to data from Juniper Research, devices with voice assistant technology like Alexa will hit the 275 million-mark by 2023, up from 25 million this year. Says Louis Georgiou, managing director at Code Computerlove:

“Many consider smart speakers to be the future of home automation – and there is certainly good progress being made here as more homeowners link their smart home heating, lighting and security technology to their voice controlled technology. Voice-controlled devices are here to stay, and we do expect this to be an exciting space for innovation in the future, where consumers will go beyond the timer and weather functionality to enhance their lives in increasingly rich ways.”

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Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.