Conversation Mode launches on Echo Show 10 to allow interaction without needing to say “Alexa” everytime

Amazon has announced that Alexa’s Conversation Mode, first teased a year ago, launches today on Echo Show 10 devices. The new feature allows for more natural back and forth interaction with Alexa without needing to use the wake word before each request. This goes far beyond Alexa’s existing Follow-up mode, which simply keeps Alexa listening after every response, by using audio and visual detection to determine when speech is directed at the Echo device, which Amazon says “represents a major milestone in voice AI.” Read more ›

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Amazon adds Ultrasound Motion Detection to select Echo speakers

Amazon has added the ability for 4th-gen Echo and 4th-gen Echo Dots to detect occupancy in a room by emitting an inaudible ultrasound audio wave. The capability can be used to automatically trigger Alexa Routines when you enter or exit a room. When configuring the trigger of a routine, select “Smart Home” and then select the appropriate Echo to be given the option to trigger the routine when “People are detected” or when “People aren’t detected.” You also have the option of enabling or disabling ultrasound motion detection altogether for each compatible Echo device. This is done under the device settings of each Echo within the Alexa app.

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Alexa can now move playing music from one device to another

Amazon has added the ability to move music playing on one Alexa device to another. Simply say “Alexa, move my music to [Destiniation Device Name]” stop the music that is playing and start it up on the destination device. Alternatively, you can say “Alexa, pause” to the device that is playing music and then say “Alexa, resume music here” to the device that you want to pick up music playback. This also works on Echo Buds and Echo Auto if you want to switch from listening at home to your on-the-go devices. The capability isn’t limited to music, as you can move and resume podcasts and radio stations as well. Just use commands like “Alexa, move my podcast…” or “Alexa, resume radio…” when relevant.

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Alexa can now give you more time to finish speaking with its new Adaptive Listening Mode

Amazon has added a new feature called Adaptive Listening to Alexa devices, as reported by The Verge. Once enabled, Alexa will give you more time to finish speaking before it starts to respond to you. This will surely be handy for those with speech impediments but will also be nice for anyone who finds that Alexa cuts in mid-sentence when they’re just pausing for a second before completing their request. Read more ›

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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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Amazon Echo Show software update adds Web Browser, Smart Home Dashboard, NBC, Hulu, and more

The all-new Amazon Echo Show is being released today but owners of the 1st generation Echo Show are receiving a software update that adds many of the new model’s features to their existing devices. In addition to an overall system-wide refresh of the interface, the new update has added both the Amazon Silk and Firefox web browsers which, most notably, restores access to YouTube on the Echo Show. Also being added is a new smart home dashboard that gives quick touch access to smart lights and Alexa routines. Echo Shows can now also stream NBC and Hulu programming. Read more ›

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Alexa Hunches now alert you of smart home devices that you might have forgot about

Amazon has started rolling out a new optional Alexa feature, called Alexa Hunches, that allows the voice assistant to make suggestions about the current state of your smart home devices. For example, if you say “Good night” and you’ve forgotten to turn off a smart light that is usually off at night, Alexa will alert you and offer to turn the light off. If you say “Set alarm” on your way out and your backdoor smart lock is unlocked, Alexa will let you know. Read more ›

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Amazon’s Alexa can now give you information about your specific TV Provider

Amazon has added a new option to the Alexa app that allows you to select your specific TV provider. Doing so enables Alexa to answer questions about your TV service. Questions about TV shows or networks will include times and channels that are available on your specific TV provider. Read more ›

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Alexa’s new ‘Answer Updates’ feature will notify you when it learns your answer

Amazon is rolling out a new Alexa feature called “Answer Update” that will notify you when the voice assistant learns the answer to a question you’ve asked which it was unable to answer at the time. The feature was first spotted by Voicebot and later confirmed by Amazon to TechCrunch. If you ask Alexa a question it can’t answer, there’s a chance it will ask if you’d like to turn on the new Answer Update feature. Alternatively, you can say “Alexa, turn on Answer Update” to turn the feature on immediately, assuming it has already rolled out to your devices. Alexa should respond by saying “Okay, if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, but I find out later I’ll notify you.” You can turn off the feature at any point by saying “Alexa, turn off Answer Update.”

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Amazon Echo Show’s new ‘Tap to Alexa’ accessibility feature is handy enough for anyone to use

Amazon has added a new accessibility feature to the Echo Show called “Tap to Alexa.” It’s meant to give people who are unable to interact with Alexa by voice, such as people with a speech impairment, a way to access most of the Echo Show’s features by using the touchscreen. It works by displaying a grid of customizable icons that execute Alexa tasks when tapped. While it’s meant to be used by impaired individuals, it’s actually hand enough that anyone might find it useful. Read more ›

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Amazon appears to be testing a new ‘Brief Mode’ which reduces Alexa’s superfluous verbal responses

It seems as though Amazon is trying out a new “Brief Mode” for Alexa. The new mode results in Alexa talking less by replacing some of Alexa’s verbal confirmations with beeps. Instead of replying “Okay” after being asked to change the state of a smart home device, with Brief Mode enabled, Alexa performs the requested action and responds with a confirmation chime. Read more ›

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Amazon Alexa’s new ‘Follow-Up’ mode lets you string together multiple requests

Amazon has added a new feature to Alexa called Follow-up Mode that makes it easier to make multiple back-to-back requests. With follow-up mode enabled, Alexa will continue listening for additional commands after completing a request so that you don’t have to repeatedly say the wake word before each request. Read more ›

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