Amazon Alexa is now receiving two new updates that make the voice assistant behave more naturally and talk less.
Amazon is toiling to make its voice assistant Alexa, which powers the Echo speaker range, more humanlike and natural. The company is rolling out a significant update that will allow Alexa to take follow-up questions without the need of calling the wake word on subsequent questions. Besides, there is another update that would make Alexa less chatty and increase promptness to the voice queries by replacing voice responses with a beep. The update is incrementally rolling out to all the users who use Alexa on either Echo or other sound devices from partner companies.
Coming to the first update, Alexa has to be triggered only after its wake word is called, followed by a query. In case you need to inquire further about the topic, you are required to repeat this process by adding the wake word ‘Alexa’ (or other wake words from the list) before the next question, which is additionally required to reiterate the topic. According to a report by CNET, Amazon is now rolling out an update that will make Alexa converse naturally.
For example, if you ask Alexa – ‘Who’s known as the father of the nation?’, followed by another question, say, ‘What was Mahatma Gandhi’s full name?’, you will need to say the wake word ‘Alexa’ twice – one for each question. After this update, you can simply ask the second question without adding ‘Alexa’ in the starting and using ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ in the sentence, as Alexa would know the context of the question. This will allow Alexa to remember the topic for the last question for up to five seconds. During these five seconds, Alexa’s blue light will be on indicating that it’s still listening to any further questions on the topic it answered last. If you want to end the query, just say ‘Thank you’ or ‘Stop’, the light will turn off showing Alexa has ended the conversation.
In order to activate this feature, go to your Amazon Alexa app on your phone and jump to settings located on the side hamburger menu. Then go to your device’s name – for example, Echo or Echo Dot. Now, scroll down to find the device time zone, below which you will see a Follow-up mode that needs to be turned on to make Alexa understand follow-up questions. The feature is not available in India as of now, however, it is expected to roll out widely in coming days.
The other update called the Brief Mode is rolling out on Alexa, as well, and will make the queries acted upon without any delays. According to a report by Engadget citing some Reddit users who spotted this feature, the Brief Mode omits the verbal response given by Alexa after it understands your voice query. This means that instead of giving a verbal confirmation like ‘Okay’, Alexa will just make a beep asserting that it understood the query. The report adds that this feature is now available on Alexa version 2.2.202313.0 on iOS, while it is unclear whether it has rolled out on Android, as well. This update makes Alexa more prompt in terms of performing the actions and be less talkative.