Along with the announcement of new Amazon hardware, we’re also getting a huge dump of new features from its digital assistant Alexa. They’re bringing communication, productivity, entertainment, and even safety features, most of which are available with just a few words spoken to Alexa. Some are already available while some will be rolling out in the next few months. In any case, this is a good time to be releasing features and skills like this with more people staying at home than going somewhere else.
For the new communication skills of Alexa, you’ll be able to ask her to call your family and those registered as your family members will be able to join you in a video call. You’ll create and name those groups and just say “Alexa, call my family” and you’re all set. And if you’re a regular Zoom user, you will soon be able to join a video conference call on select Echo Show devices. Just say “Alexa, join my Zoom meeting” and you should be able to do so. Alexa video calls and Drop In calls will also get in-call effects soon so you can virtually place yourself in any 3D background.
When it comes to making your day-to-day tasks more convenient, Alexa has some new tricks up her sleeves. If you’re buying ingredients from Whole Foods Market or Amazon Fresh Cart, you can ask “Alexa, what’s for dinner?” and it will give you personalized recommendations and recipes based on what you had delivered. Alexa-powered speakers’ sound detectors will also be improved as they will recognize more sounds like a baby crying or someone snoring. You can create a Routine where the Iight in your bedroom turns on when it hears a baby crying or it can turn on white noise when it starts to hear someone snoring.
And of course Alexa and Echo speakers and displays are majorly for entertainment or leisure. Soon you’ll be able to watch Netflix on the Echo show and use Alexa to look for shows and play them for you. You will also be able to share music to your friends by saying “Alexa, share this song with Jane” and wait for your friend’s reaction to it. They didn’t mention what music service will be used but it will most likely be Amazon Music. Kids will be able to read a book with Alexa with the Reading Sidekick skill.
Parents will also now be able to create a voice profile for their kids on the Echo device and Alexa will switch to the kids experience when it detects a child talking to them. Alexa also brings Care Hub where you can assign another Alexa user as your emergency contact so you can just say “Alexa, call for help” and they will get in touch with the other person. Finally, Guard Plus is their $4.99/month subscription service to turn your Echo devices into a security system.