Amazon has added a new Follow-Up mode which enables Alexa device owners to make sequential requests without repeating the wake word.
Once the mode is enabled Alexa will listen for another five seconds after a request, allowing users to issue a second command without saying her name again.
So, for example, users will be able to say “Hey Alexa, dim the lights” and, once Alexa has acknowledged the command with an “OK”, immediately follow that up with an additional request to “play some soft jazz”.
It’s a simple but affective addition to Alexa’s functionality, signified by the blue light on Echo devices remaining lit while Alexa still listening.
Follow-Up mode stops short of enabling complex commands like “Hey Alexa lock the door and close the garage” but the personal assistant is certainly getting closer.
Amazon says the mode, which is available for the entire Echo line up and some third-party Alexa-enabled devices (via CNET), is designed to make the conversational interaction appear more natural.
Furthermore, the firm says Alexa will only follow up if it is certain the utterance is an additional request, rather than background chatter.
Users will also be able to end the conversation with a “thank you” following the initial request, to ensure she’s not anticipating another request.
In order to enable Follow-Up mode, users will need to head to the Alexa app and select the requisite device. Follow-Up mode can be switched on from there.
It’s nice to see that Amazon is making this opt-in. With some users concerned about Alexa’s eavesdropping, it’s natural members of the Echo-using community won’t want her listening any longer than absolutely necessary.
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