While Amazon Alexa is helpful for playing music, controlling smart home devices and answering queries, it's not always the most polite assistant. Luckily, Amazon just fixed one of Alexa's most annoying communication quirks.
Often when I wake Alexa, I do so before organizing my thoughts around what I need to say. It takes me a second or two to remember the assigned names of all the best smart home devices I own, or what phrase triggers each of my Alexa routines. In that moment of hesitation, Alexa is prone to interrupting me.
Sure, I can work on thinking a bit more before I speak. But there's still pressure to get out what I need to say after Alexa's ring is glowing blue on any of the best Alexa speakers, indicating it's waiting for a command. In fact, the expectation to announce queries quickly reminds me of ordering a deli sandwich in New York City — say your order fast or face the wrath of hungry, impatient urbanites.
Amazon's new "More Time to Finish Speaking with Alexa" setting looks to ease some of this anxiety by giving users more time to give queries before Alexa offers a response. Most of us (keyword, most) know that speaking over someone while they're talking to you is rude. Since Alexa is an AI, i've given it some leeway, but it's encouraging to see the assistant is adding more inclusive communication options.
More Time to Finish Speaking with Alexa could specifically help those with speech impediments, like a stutter, feel more comfortable interacting with Amazon's voice assistant. Knowing how to use Alexa becomes easier when you know you have all the time you need to speak.
How to enable More Time to Finish Speaking with Alexa
Amazon says More Time to Finish Speaking with Alexa is available now and can be enabled in the Alexa app on your smartphone. I didn't see the toggle in my account, so it's likely still rolling out. I imagine it'll land under the Voice Responses section in Alexa Preferences alongside Brief Mode, Whisper Mode and Adaptive Volume.
I've become a big fan of Adaptive Volume, which forces Alexa to adjust its volume in respect to ambient sounds. I tested it on the Amazon Echo Dot with Clock, but the feature also works with newer devices like the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) and Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen).
All in all, Amazon's biggest Alexa upgrades this year improve the assistant's communication perceptions. Though many of the new tools are optional, it's clear Amazon is committed to giving Alexa more human-like enhancements. Is it a little creepy? Probably. But maybe only thing that irks more than the thought of a Westworld-style AI takeover is being interrupted before I've finished speaking.