New ‘Adaptive Volume’ feature for Amazon Alexa makes it speak louder when it’s noisy

Amazon has launched a new Alexa feature called Adaptive Volume which causes the voice assistant to respond more loudly when it detects a noisy environment, as spotted by The Verge. When enabled, the option, essentially, allows Alexa to override the current volume setting of the device by temporarily increasing the output volume for that one interaction if background noise is detected. Read more ›

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Alexa can now read with kids through new Reading Sidekick feature

Amazon has announced Reading Sidekick, a new Alexa feature for Fire tablets and Echo speakers that will take turns reading with kids. This new capability is included with an Amazon Kids+ subscription, which comes included with Fire Kids tablets, Echo Dot Kids edition, or can be purchased seperatly for as little as $2.99 per month. Reading Sidekick will listen as children read to help if they strugle and encourage them when they succeed. To try the feature, say “Alexa, let’s read” or “Alexa, open Reading Sidekick.” The feature already works with over 700 books which can be selected thorugh the Amazon Kids app.

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You can now share music to your friend’s Echo device using Alexa

Amazon has introduced a new Alexa feature called Music Sharing that allows you to share the song that you’re listening to on your Echo device with a friend. While a song is playing, simply say “Alexa share this song with [name]” and the named friend will receive a notification about the song through their Echo devices and their Alexa app. When the friend opens the notification, they’ll be able to listen to the song and reply back with a reaction. Read more ›

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Alexa app now tracks the Power Consumption of your Smart Home Devices in new Energy Dashboard

The Alexa app has been updated to include a new feature called the Energy Dashboard that attempts to estimate the power consumption of your smart home devices. The dashboard charts the power usage of smart lights, plugs, thermostats, and more over time so that you can see which smart devices use the most energy and whether your power usage is trending up or down. While Alexa’s new energy dashboard does seem to report power usage figures from smart devices that report their energy consumption, it also works with more basic smart devices by simply tracking how long each one is powered on during a given timeframe. Read more ›

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Event-based reminders are now possible with Alexa’s new ‘Tell Me When’ functionality

Amazon’s Alexa has gained a new capability for alerting you when a particular event occurs. By saying “Alexa, tell me when…” and completing the request with a number of possible events, Alexa will create a reminder that will be triggered when that event takes place. Events that can be used in this manner include sports, TV shows, holidays, and arriving emails. Read more ›

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Alexa can now play Podcasts from Spotify in 11 more countries

About a year ago, Alexa gained the ability to play podcasts from Spotify in the US. That capability is now also being made available in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, India, Austria, and Ireland. Once you have Alexa linked to Spotify, you’ll be able to say “Alexa, play [podcast name] podcast on Spotify” to start listening. Easy as that. Once the podcast episode is playing, you should be able to use the usual podcast commands to control playback.

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Amazon Fire TV Cube will soon be able to change OTA tuner channels on TVs through Alexa

Amazon has let me know that Fire TV Cubes in the US and select countries will soon gain the ability to switch channels on the over-the-air tuner built into TVs. The Fire TV Cube has always had the ability to change channels on Cable and Sattelite boxes, but now this upcoming update expands that capability to also include changing channels from an HD antenna directly on your TV. Once the feature arrives, and is configured, you’ll be able to ask Alexa to change channels by saying “Alexa, tune to channel [#] on TV.” You’ll also be able to change channels by name by saying “Alexa, tune to [CHANNEL NAME] on TV.” Read more ›

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Skype calling through Alexa is now available

Microsoft has just launched the Skype integration with Alexa that they announced earlier this year. To link the two services, simply go into the Alexa app and login with your Skype account under Settings > Communication > Skype. Once you do so, you’ll automatically earn 200 free Skype minutes. Placing Skype to Skype calls is always free, but the minutes are used if you want to use Skype to call a regular phone number. Read more ›

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Alexa will now whisper back thanks to its new Whisper Mode

Amazon is rolling out a new feature called Whisper mode to Alexa devices that allows the voice assistant to whisper back responses when you whisper to it. Once the feature is available on your device, the first time Alexa hears a whispered request, it will respond by saying “Wow, I think you just whispered to me” and briefly explain the new feature. From then on, if Alexa detects a whisper, the response will be given at a lower whispered volume. If you don’t like being whispered to, you can simply say “Alexa, turn off Whisper Mode” and you’ll no longer receive whispered responses. If you’re having trouble getting Alexa to whisper, try saying “Alexa, turn on Whisper Mode” to see if the feature is available yet on your device. Here’s a video on Twitter of the feature in action.

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