Amazon introduced Alexa notifications earlier this year and kicked things off with the ability for Echo device’s to notify you when your Amazon shipments were on their way. Third-party Alexa Skills were said to follow with notifications privileges and now they’re here with a new way to manage them in the Alexa app.
Alexa notifications are the first way for Echo devices to communicate with you without first being prompted, aside from alarms and timers. It’s a new frontier for Amazon’s line of smart speakers, so it’ll be interesting how they and third-party developers use the new ability.
Thankfully, all notifications, whether they come from Amazon or from third-parties, are disabled by default. You have to manually enable them individually, on a per skill basis, within the Alexa app.
If you go into the Alexa app’s settings area and scroll down to the “Accounts” section, there is an option for “Notifications.” Selecting it will bring up Amazon’s own notification toggles at the top, of which there is only one currently for shipping notifications, and third-party notifications below. It appears as though Amazon only provides the option to enable all or none of a specific skill’s notifications. Finer control over specific types of notifications will likely need to be handled by the Alexa skill itself.
Alexa skills that have the ability to send unprompted notifications will have “Alexa Notifications” listed under the permissions section of the skill’s app listing or Amazon page listing, but again, you have to manually flip each skill’s notifications on before you’ll receive any.
The first few skills that use notification are AccuWeather, which uses them to send sever weather alerts, The Washington Post, which will send you breaking news alerts, and Life360, which is a service to track where your loved ones are. It uses Alexa notifications to tell you when your family arrives or leaves specific locations.
Alexa notifications arrive on the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and other compatible devices as pulsing yellow lights that are accompanied by an alert sound. To hear what the notification is about, you simply say “Read my Notifications” or ask “What did I miss?” If you have multiple notifications, you can skip through them by saying “Next” or “Previous,” and you can clear all notifications by saying “Delete all of my notifications.”
Amazon provides a good deal of control over notifications, in order to keep them from becoming a nuisance, if you do choose to enable them. You can set do not disturb windows to keep notifications from bothering you at certain times of the day. You can also select to disable notifications entirely on a per-device basis.