This week, Amazon made it possible to teach Alexa to recognize your voice. Once you’ve completed the voice training process and created a voice profile, Alexa will be able to distinguish your voice from the voice of others who use the same Echo devices. Here’s a detailed breakdown of Alexa’s various features that are affected when the voice assistant recognizes the speaker. Most changes focus on improving Alexa use in a multi-user household, but somes actually improve Alexa even if you’re the only one using your devices.
Before getting into the details of how Alexa changes once it recognizes the speaker, it’s important to know that, currently, only the Amazon Echo (1st & 2nd gen), Echo Dot (1st & 2nd gen), Echo Show, and the upcoming Echo Spot and Echo Plus are the only devices that support voice recognition. Alexa on Fire TV devices, Fire tablets, Amazon Tap, Dash Wand, and in the Amazon app will not recognize who is speaking.
Listening to Messages
If a recognized speaker asks Alexa to “play my messages,” Alexa will only play messages that were sent to the recognized speaker and skip all other pending messages. This is equivalent to saying “Play messages for [household member name]” if you don’t have a voice profile configured. Having voice recognition enabled does not add any security or restrictions to messages because a recognized speaker can still request to hear messages sent to other people.
If a recognized speaker asks Alexa to “Send a message to [contact name],” Alexa will automatically mark the message as coming from the recognized speaker and announce the sender’s name when playing the message to the recipient.
Making Alexa-to-Alexa Calls
If a recognized speaker asks Alexa to “Call [contact name]’s Echo,” the recognized speaker’s name will be announced on the recipients Echo device as the caller by saying “[Caller’s name] us calling.” The recognized speaker’s contact list will also automatically be used to place the Alexa-to-Alexa call.
Making Phone Calls
If a recognized speaker asks Alexa to “Call [contact name/phone number],” the recognized speaker’s mobile number will appear on the caller ID of the recipient’s phone. The recognized speaker’s contact list will also automatically be used to locate the phone number to call if a contact name is used when placing the call.
When a recognized speaker requests Amazon music, Alexa automatically uses the user’s listening history to learn their music taste. The more a recognized speaker asks for music, the more Alexa will learn about what they like to listen to. If a recognized speaker makes a non-specific request for music, Alexa will use their music profile to play customized music selections. Vague music requests include saying “Play music,” “Play a station,” “Play a playlist,” and “Play an album.” Amazon says that voice profiles work best to provide playback personalization for customers subscribed to an Amazon Music Unlimited Family Plan, but will also work, to a limited extent, for customers with individual Music Unlimited subscriptions and Prime members listening to Prime Music.
Voice recognition does not make a difference when requesting music from 3rd-party providers like Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio. Alexa will always use the active profile’s 3rd-party music accounts when someone requests music from those services, even if a recognized speaker makes the request. For example, if Jack and Jill have both created voice profiles and Jack’s profile is the one that is currently active, Jill still has to say “Switch to Jill’s profile” in order to listen to her own Pandora account. If Jill, as a recognized speaker, requests one of her Pandora stations while Jack’s profile is active, the station will be played from Jack’s Pandora account.
If you’ve configured Alexa to require a PIN be spoken before making a voice purchase, the first time a recognized speaker asks to make a purchase, Alexa will ask for the PIN but then will no longer require a PIN be spoken for future purchases by the same recognized speaker. This is the default behavior, but you can go into the Alexa app and change the settings to always require a PIN be spoken, regardless of whether the speaker is recognized.
Playing Flash Briefings
When a recognized speaker asks Alexa to play their flash briefing, Alexa will only play news that the recognized speaker haven’t already heard. This lets you continue your flash briefing where you last left off without your place being affected by others who listen to the same flash briefing. As a recognized speaker, if you prefer to listen to your flash briefing from the beginning, you can always say “Play all my Flash Briefing” or “Play all my news” to replay news that you’ve already heard.