Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

Amazon wants users to ask 'follow-up' questions, announces new feature for Alexa

Amazon wants users to ask 'follow-up' questions, announces new feature for Alexa

A new feature called "follow-up mode" may change that.

The basic idea is simple, and a little bit obvious in hindsight.

After purchasing an Amazon Alexa-enabled device, you may have found yourself saying the wake word "Alexa" more times in a given day than you're comfortable with. For example, "Alexa, call mum" and she will oblige, or you can ask Alexa to drop in on a relative or a Echo Show in the nursery to check on your child.

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"The blue indicator light on the Echo device remains on for a few seconds, letting you know that Alexa is active and ready for your next request", Amazon explained in a support note. If you have anything else to ask her, you can just ask it without needing to say her name first. As usual, saying "stop", "cancel" or "go to sleep" will stop Alexa from listening. One fix will involve disabling the phrase: "Alexa, laugh", and they have also changed the command to "Alexa, can you laugh?" ALEXA: "OK." (continues listening) YOU: "Set the thermostat to 68". This means that the user will have to clearly issue the command because if they don't, Alexa probably won't separate it from the background noise. Android and iOS have extra steps, forcing you to manually open the Alexa app before you can talk to the virtual assistant, but the basics are the same. Select the device in question, then scroll down and toggle the Follow-up Mode slider into the on position (it's off by default).

Last year Amazon added the Alexa calling feature to Echo devices, essentially turning your smart speaker into a phone. The company also says the latter phrase is "less likely to have false positives", or in other words the Alexa software is likely to mistake common words and phrases that sound similar to the one that makes Alexa start laughing.

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