Reports have reached us from our sources that a new feature has been added to Alexa voice assistant by Amazon which allows users to make successive requests without the need to repeat the wake word for the Echo speaker. Amazon calls the new setting “follow-up mode” and though it will not allow you to put a request into another request, it allows you to make multiple requests. You can’t ask Alexa to turn off the lights and change the temperature in the same breath, for example, but you can make one request and then make another without the need to call “Alexa” again.
The follow-up mode works by allowing Alexa listen for up to five seconds after the first command. This is denoted by the blue ring on an Echo speaker or another Echo device that is lit up. As soon as the blue light fades, Alexa goes back into sleep mode and must not be woken up with the custom wake word you have set. There are few things however that Alexa has to make an upgrade on. For example, this follow-up mode only works when Alexa is “confident” that the second command is not just a background noise from a discussion or a program on TV.
It is exactly unclear how it works, it is likely safe to say that this feature may not work all the time at first, or it may register few false positives from a Netflix show in the beginning until Amazon fine-tunes follow-up mode in the future. Amazon says that one way to put Alexa to sleep by force is to say either “thank you” or “stop” to conclude some commands which could make our conversations with voice assistants friendly in nature. There is a debate concerning the best pattern of discourse with voiced-based AI software, and Amazon, Google, and others have a lot of power in the matter to design the interfaces of these devices to accommodate user behaviours.
Our sources say that the follow-up mode setting is opt-in and is available for every device in the Echo lineup as well as some third-party Echo devices. Follow-up mode only has English version for now and it only works when Alexa is not being used for another persistent activity like listening to music or an audiobook.