Amazon reveals a bunch of new features and improvements coming to Alexa

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Amazon reveals a bunch of new features and improvements coming to Alexa
Google’s Assistant main competitor, Alexa is getting new features and improvements, Amazon announced earlier today. Judging by what we’ve seen during Amazon’s presentation, future Alexa feels like an assistant on steroids compared with the Alexa from a decade ago.

Thanks to the power of generative AI, Amazon has been able to upgrade many of Alexa’s features. The most important upgrade revealed today is a new large language model that’s been specifically optimized for voice interactions.

Basically, Alexa will be more expressive and will sound a lot more casual when chatting with you. Starting this year, customers in the United States will be able to preview some of the capabilities enabled by generative AI by saying “Alexa, let’s chat” to Echo devices they already own.

As mentioned, in the preview Echo owners should notice that Alexa feels more natural and conversational than before, as well as the digital assistant’s ability to reason and understand complex requests, which has been consistently improved.

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Amazon also announced that it’s been able to design new smart home experiences and make Alexa easier to talk and interact with. For example, you’ll soon be able to combine multiple requests into one by saying, “Alexa, close all the blinds, turn off all the lights, and start the vacuum.”

Later this year, Alexa will gain the ability to detect the brightness level and activity in a room, and decide to turn the lights on or off. Customers who specifically want this feature should look for motion and ambient light sensors that have the WWA (Works with Alexa) badge. According to Amazon, select Echo devices with motion and ambient light sensors will also support this feature, including the Echo Dot (5th Gen).

Eye gaze is another interesting new feature announced by Amazon today. It’s meant to support customers with mobility or speech disabilities by allowing them to gaze at their tablet to perform pre-set Alexa actions, such as playing music and shows, controlling home environment, and communicating with friends and family. This feature will start rolling out to customers at no additional cost later this year on Fire Max 11 tablets in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan.

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Call Translation does exactly what the name suggests: it captions your Alexa audio and video calls in real time. The feature will launch to Echo Show customers and on the Alexa mobile app in the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain later this year, in over 10 languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese.

Another new service announced today by Amazon is Alexa Emergency Assist. It will enable users to get fast access to help, hands free through a supported Echo device. The at-home hands-free safety service includes features like 24/7 Urgent Response, Smart Alerts, and Emergency Contacts and costs $5.99 per month or $59 per year.

 

Customers in the US will soon be able to subscribe to the new Alexa Emergency Assist service, while Guard Plus customers will instead get access to Alexa Emergency Protect for $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

Furthermore, Amazon confirmed the upcoming release of Explore with Alexa, a new conversational experience specifically designed for Amazon Kids+ on Echo devices. The new experience combines trivia questions and entertaining facts, and should be available before the holidays, Amazon says.

With Explore with Alexa, kids can ask Alexa a question about animals and nature, and Amazon’s assistant will respond with info adapted from trusted sources.



Last but not least, Amazon announced a new Map View experience, which allows customers to use compatible iOS devices to scan and create a digital map of their home’s floor plan and pin their connected devices to it.

The new Map View feature also allows users to control their devices, like turning all the lights on and off in a single tap or check if the doors are locked after leaving home in a hurry. This will be available in the Alexa app later this year and come to Echo Hub in early 2024.
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