Amazon has just announced nearly a dozen new products, ranging from next-generation versions of its smart speakers to Echo Auto for cars. But alongside the new hardware Amazon also unveiled a whole lot of new Alexa features, making the voice assistant even more useful. The new feature set is for both consumers and developers creating experiences for Alexa-enabled devices.
While Amazon has made Alexa smarter in a number of new ways, here's a quick rundown of features you might find immediately useful.
Very soon, just saying, “Alexa, I’m leaving” will turn her into your home guard. Harnessing the listening power of Echo speakers, Alexa will alert you if she hears the sound of breaking glass or the sound made by a smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarm. To make it look like someone’s home, Alexa Guard can also keep toggling your home lights on and off at a pre-set frequency.
Alexa Guard will be available on select Echo devices later this year, and will support integration with existing home security systems from Ring and ADT.
Alexa can now hear your whispers, and whisper you back. This feature will be extremely helpful when you need to to speak to Alexa, but your kids or spouse is asleep nearby. Just whisper your command and she will whisper her response back to you.
If your internet's down, you'll still be able to interact with lights, plugs, switches, and other devices that are connected to an Echo device. This feature is compatible with Echo devices that have a built-in smart home hub, such as the Echo Plus and the new Echo Show.
Alexa will now have a 2-way talk feature that lets you to see and talk to someone at the door without having to open the door. Just say “Alexa, answer the front door” when the doorbell rings or motion is detected by the security camera. The new feature works with Ring and August doorbell cameras, and will be available in the coming weeks.
This is another feature that makes Alexa instantly smarter. With Hunches, Alexa will now be able to sense when connected smart devices are not in the state that you prefer, and advise you accordingly. For example, if you say “Alexa, good night,” before you turn off your lights, Alexa will respond with “Good night. By the way, your living room light is on. Do you want me to turn it off?”
You'll now be able to ask Alexa to follow your favorite artist, and receive notifications on when they release a new album or track. Amazon will likely partner up with a number of artists as it promises that some of your favorite artists will voice deliver the notifications themselves.
Beside the few new features listed above, Amazon has added a plenty more to Alexa. Some of them include kid routines, Skype calling, support for multi-step requests, location-based reminders and a built-in browser for Echo Show. You can find the full list in Amazon’s press release here.
Note that not all of the new features are available instantly. Also, the compatibility varies from device to device.