Anki's Vector robot launched in October. The little guy is certainly cute, and it's always had a useful trick or two; it can tell you the temperature outside or set timers, for example. But starting next week in the US and Canada, Vector is getting a whole lot more practical with the addition of Alexa functionality.

Vector will still do all the cutesy toy robot stuff it does now, like playing simple games and reacting to different stimuli with Pixar-like apparent emotion, but it'll also be able to do everything other Alexa-equipped devices do, like controlling smart home gadgets and adding items to your Amazon shopping list.

Alexa support is coming to Vector robots in the US and Canada starting Monday, and to those in the UK early next year. Anki does plan to bring Alexa to units in Australia and New Zealand eventually, but hasn't yet announced a time frame.

When you say "Alexa," Vector will stand at attention like it normally does, but with a markedly less charming Echo-style blue ring on its face display in place of the usual cartoon robot eyes. The new features arriving right before the holidays make Vector a considerably better gift for most people — it's still an expensive toy, for sure, but it's an expensive toy that can do some useful things. There's probably no cuter way to adjust your Nest thermostat.

If you're interested, you can currently save $75 on Vector, which is on sale for $174.99, down from its normal $249.99. You can pick one up at Anki's website.