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Amazon’s Alexa assistant is already pretty smart at switching on lights, reading out the latest news and weather reports, setting timers, and more. However, things look set to get even more advanced for Echo owners as Amazon has announced an update that’ll make Alexa even wiser.
It’s hoped this latest upgrade will make Amazon’s AI-based assistant better at having more natural conversations with its human owners. The US firm says that by using a new machine learning system, Alexa “can infer that an initial question implies a subsequent request”.
While that might sound complicated, the results are pretty intuitive.
Amazon believes these machine learning improvements will help Echo owners find out about new features, or anticipate additional questions that could be coming soon – saving someone from starting again with a new request to Alexa.
So, for example, if a customer asks, “How long does it take to boil an egg?”, the machine learning system deduces that whoever asked that could be looking to boil an egg. So, with the new capability, Alexa might answer that question, “Three minutes is a good place to start”, then follow up by asking, “Would you like me to set a timer for three minutes?”
Getting Alexa to understand when is a good time to keep responding without becoming highly irritating is complex task. Explaining more, Alexa software engineers Anjishnu Kumar and Anand Rathi blogged stated: “Transitions like this appear simple, but under the hood a number of sophisticated algorithms are running to detect latent goals, formulate them into actions that frequently span different skills, and surface them to customers in a way that doesn’t feel disruptive.”
Amazon is clearly happy with what they’ve achieved with Kumar and Rathi adding: “We are thrilled about this invention as it aids discovery of Alexa’s skills and provides increased utility to our customers.”
This upgrade is rolling out in the US first with no word on when the rest of the world will receive access. While we wait to find out more, here’s some top tricks and new things everyone can ask their Echo speakers.
Just ask, “Alexa, can we be friends?”
“Alexa, how can I make you even smarter?”
Help Alexa’s ability to answer questions through the Amazon crowdsourced Q&A platform: Alexa Answers. Learn more.
“Alexa, tell me an animal fact”
“Alexa, start Knight Manager”
Will your knight be the most glorious of all? Try this epic adventure game and try to become the strongest in the entire kingdom.
“Alexa, give me a long word”
“Alexa, play classical for yoga”
“Alexa, remind me to feed the dogs”
“Alexa, drop in on kitchen”
Drop In allows you to connect instantly with the Echo devices on your account. For example, when watching a film in the living room, you can drop in from your Echo device or Alexa app to your kitchen Echo to ask for popcorn. Learn more.
“Alexa, tell me a banana joke”
“Alexa, show my Facebook photos”
You can now personalise your wallpaper on Echo Show with photos of friends and family from Facebook. To link your account, open the Alexa app, go to the menu and select ‘Settings’, ‘Photos’ and then log in to your Facebook account.
“Alexa, stop reading in 20 minutes”
“Alexa, give me an easy dinner recipe”
“Alexa read a sci-fi story”
“Alexa, what can I say?”
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