Amazon has started rolling out a critical update for its smart voice assistant Alexa, which powers the hugely-popular range of Amazon Echo smart speakers. The new update is aimed at making conversations with Alexa-enabled devices more natural. It also adds the ability to ask follow-up questions without saying the trigger word, just like you would when talking to a personal assistant.
Until now, Amazon Echo users had to start every query with the word ‘Alexa’ to wake the always-on speaker, followed by the question, CNET reports. For instance, you want to ask a question about the Prime Minister of India, you were required to say – Alexa, who is the prime minister of India. Next, if you wanted to ask about his age or date of birth, you were again required to say – Alexa, what is the age of India’s prime minister, or Alexa, what is the age of Narendra Modi.
However, with the latest update, you can have more natural conversation. For the first instance, you will have to say Alexa, to wake the always-on speaker, and then ask the question. Now, when you want to know more about the age or date of birth or anything else, you just need to ask the follow-up question, without having to say the hot word ‘Alexa’ again.
The new feature is compatible with Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Spot. And to ask follow up questions, users will get five seconds after the initial query is answered. During these five seconds, the blue lights on the smart speakers will be lit, indicating that Alexa is still listening. And you can say ‘thank you’ or ‘stop’ at any point to end the conversation.
How to enable Follow-Up Mode on Amazon Alexa
The new functionality is not enabled by default, and you’ll need to manually activate the same. To do this, open Amazon Alexa App, tap on the hamburger menu on the top left, followed by settings. Now, select the Amazon Echo device that is configured and scroll down. Just below the device time zone, you will see an option called Follow-up Mode, which needs to be toggled to activate.
As of filing the story, the update has not yet made it to India, and might probably be rolled out gradually over the coming days. These are small improvements aimed towards making Alexa sound more human and not robotic.