Just in time for the holiday season, Amazon is adding a bunch of new features to its voice-activated digital assistant Alexa, including the ability to hear emails and set location-based reminders, among other things.
According to a report in The Verge, the new updates, some of which were announced this fall, started launching this week, with full availability to U.S.-based customers coming this week. With the new location-based enhancements, users with the Alexa app for their smartphones will be able to induce actions when they enter or leave a place, whether it’s the gym, home or office. Alexa will be able to automatically engage in activities such as turning off the lights when you leave a room or turning on the AC as you pull into the driveway. Users can also set up location-based alerts to remind them of certain tasks when they enter the home or office. For instance you can have Alexa remind you to send an email when you enter the office or do the laundry when you get home. The Verge noted that if a user creates a location-based reminder without an Alexa device close by, a notification will be sent via the Alexa app.
As for the new email feature, Alexa can respond to voice commands such as “check my email.” Alexa can also respond to a command to check if an email coming from a specific sender was received, noted The Verge. Alexa can also delete messages, reply to email and archive messages, all via voice commands. The Verge noted the new enhancements support Gmail, Outlook.com, Hotmail and Live.com. Alexa can also now respond to voice commands about local businesses. For example, if a user asks where the closest Whole Foods is, Alexa will respond with the address, reported The Verge. The enhancements on the part of Amazon come a few days after the eCommerce company announced the launch of a self-learning system that can pinpoint defects in Alexa’s ability to understand voice commands and automatically fix the errors without any action on the part of a human.