All the new Alexa features Amazon announced for the Echo this fall


Amazon’s annual hardware event Has come and gone, with a lot of product announcements from a brand new Echo speaker And Echo show performance, A Cloud-based gaming platform. But the star of Amazon’s smart home is Alexa as usual. Amazon’s voice assistant continues to expand its reach, connecting with more than 140,000 smart home devices, and installing more than 100 million Alexa-compatible devices on its user base. But Alexa’s power is not just in itself Rapidly increasing scale And Ever expanding.

When I spoke to Daniel Rausch, Vice President of Smart Home and Alexa Mobile before the hardware program, he said that Alexa is becoming very independent. Alexa will soon be able to act hunches In addition to the word waking up to listen and react, without asking, and to protect your home more actively Upgrade to alexa guard.

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All this will lead to what Rausch called “the ambient home,” in which Alexa is “ready to respond [to voice commands], But more predictive and proactive. “

Alexa’s biggest upgrade is coming here.

Alexa Guard Plus

Amazon has rolled out and expanded Alexa Guard In the last few years you can monitor your house while you are away. When it is activated, the guard will listen for glass breaking, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and footsteps and other signs of break-in, and will send you a mobile alert.

The company is now offering some names Alexa Guard PlusA subscription service that runs for $ 4.99 per month, and it adds some features on top of standard offerings. First, Guard Plus will add a more robust “activity voice” detector, which will listen for opening or closing doors and other sounds associated with unwanted visitors. Second, Guard Plus will feature features, for example barking at recording dogs to trigger Alexa if a security camera sneaks around behind someone’s house while you’re away. Finally, Guard Plus will add a new hands-free emergency help line operated by a third-party company to connect users to emergency services such as the police, fire department or emergency liaison.

Amazon announced support for Alexa Guard Plus from a variety of hardware partners, including Dham, Wyze, Amazon’s own ring, A3 Smart Home, Scout And Resideo. You can read more about Guard Plus in our follow-up story.


Upgraded hanch

For more than a year, Amazon has been speeding up the use of Hunch – those instances when Alexa suggests an action, such as closing your front door like you’re turning off the lights for the night. In fact, Smart home Actions via Alexa, Rausch says, are initiated by one in five Alexa, rather than the user’s voice command.

With Amazon’s new upgrade to Hunch, Alex will be able to take some action without asking. This means, if you are traveling, Alexa can automatically turn off your basement lights. As you might expect, there may be some problems. But Rausch was confident that when we talked that the Alexa app would help users maintain control over what Alexa is capable of making decisions on its own, and by checking with users to make sure ” Close the loop “that are correct to perform automatic action. In addition, some devices – such as the Smart Door Lock – are not included in the hunch upgrade, so as to avoid issues such as moving out of your home during a midnight snack run.

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Sound detector routines

In addition to responding to Amazon’s traditional wake words for Alexa, such as “Hey, Alexa,” or “Hey, computer,” or even “Hey, Samuel,” for you Samuel L. Jackson fans, soon you’ll be able to trigger routines with different sounds, such as a dog barking, a baby crying or someone snoring. Rausch said these sounds will work similarly to the wake word, allowing you to trigger various smart home actions, for instance turning on your bedside lamp when your newborn cries or turning off the TV when you begin to snore.

According to Rausch, some of these sounds, such as a baby crying, won’t be sent to the cloud, to maintain privacy. But this new feature will certainly raise questions about privacy, especially around how broadly Alexa interprets various sounds as a specific kind of trigger.

Chris Monroe/Tips Clear

Alexa Care Hub

As we continue to adjust to life during a pandemic, one major concern is elder care in isolation. Rausch seemed particularly excited about this feature, as he’s been testing it with his aging mother in recent days. Essentially, the Care Hub allows two Amazon Alexa accounts to link, and gives one account broad access to activity on the other. 

Rausch said that the person in need of care would first have to extend an invite to another Alexa user, such as a family member or caretaker. The Care Hub, without providing the specifics of each individual Alexa interaction, could send a notification indicating general activity — essentially to reassure the family member or caretaker that the individual being monitored is up and going about his or her day.

Such a system, said Rausch, can help the elderly “age in place [and] Maintain dignity during these particularly difficult times.

Natural conversation

Alexa is soon going to add an interactive mode, which will let users speak back and forth with Alexa – even with multiple human participants in conversations. To activate the feature, you just need to say, “Alexa, join our conversation.”

More widespread deletion

Alexa will now be able to delete all voice recordings of your account with a single command: “Delete everything I said.” Read more for Amazon’s new voice assistant privacy features Our piece on announcements.

Other Feature Updates

In addition to these major updates, Alexa is also going to get some small-scale, quality-of-life upgrades. Here is the running list:

  • Group calling: Alexa will soon be able to facilitate video- or voice-driven group calls with up to eight participants.
  • Zoom and Amazon Chaim on Echo Show devices: Alexa will be able to connect you to the third-party video chat service Zoom, or Amazon’s own Chaim service.
  • Netflix on Echo Show devices: A year-long resentment for Echo Show users is about to end. Netflix is ​​finally coming to Echo Show devices.
  • Music sharing: If you ask Alexa to “share a song with mom”, mom will be able to listen to her echo. (The same applies to non-mothers.)
  • Reading Sidekick: With learners to read, Alex will trade lines and provide encouragement, following in a shared book.
  • Alexa Voice Profile for Children: When children talk to Alexa, the voice assistant will automatically adjust their responses to be appropriate to the child’s age and needs.
  • Interactive learning: Users will be able to teach Alexa with this setting. The voice assistant will ask questions, and you can help fill the gaps in its knowledge.

for more information: read about Amazon announced its devices and services event.

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