What you need to know
- Amazon has expanded Alexa's sound detection capabilities to recognize water running and appliance beeping.
- Alexa's motion detection is also now available on more smart speakers to trigger routines when someone is near your device.
- The Echo Show 15 is also now available for pre-order in the US.
Amazon has expanded the sound detection capabilities of Alexa along with more features that make the digital assistant a little smarter.
Alexa can now identify the sounds of running water and appliances beeping. This means you can set up an Alexa routine to notify you when the washer beeps to indicate that your laundry is finished. When Alexa detects that your faucet has been left open, it will send you a notification as well so you can take appropriate action.
Amazon previously promised at its fall event in September that it would add the ability to program Alexa to recognize custom sounds, but that feature has yet to arrive. Having said that, the two new sound detection capabilities not only help you save energy, but they also make it easier to avoid paying for unnecessary charges on your home utilities.
The retail giant has also announced ultrasound motion detection, which will allow you to set up "Occupancy Routines" on additional Echo devices. This feature allows your smart speaker to detect nearby motion and initiate a routine, such as turning on the lights. It's compatible with many of the best Alexa speakers including the 4th-gen Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Dot with Clock.
Alexa also now makes it easier for Amazon Pharmacy customers to get a prescription refill by using a voice command ("Alexa, refill my medications"). The digital assistant will also notify you when your medications arrive. If you need assistance with your prescription status, account, or billing, you can even ask Alexa to connect you to an Amazon Pharmacy representative.
Amazon has also finished rolling out Conversation Mode to the third-generation Echo Show 10 in the United States. This feature allows you to start a conversation with Alexa without having to use the wake word every time you speak to it. Simply saying "Alexa, join the conversation" will cause a blue border to show up around the device's screen, indicating the start of an uninterrupted conversation.
Finally, Amazon has made the new Echo Show 15, which debuted in late September, available for pre-order in the United States for $250. The Alexa-powered wall-mountable smart display will start shipping on December 9.
Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
The new 4th-gen Amazon Echo sounds noticeably better than previous generations, has a more appealing round design, and retains all of the Alexa features you've come to know and love.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.