Alexa Is Getting Scary Smart with These New Skills

Amazon's digital assistant Alexa is already pretty clever, but it's about to get a heck of a lot smarter. Not only will it know when to suggest its useful Skills, but it will start remembering details you've talked about in the past.

This news comes from a speech given by the head of the Alexa Brain group Ruhi Sarikaya, delivered yesterday (April 25) at the World Wide Web Conference in Lyon, France.

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These new memory features will be coming in an update that's set to hit U.S. devices soon. Sarikaya gave the example of a user telling Alexa "remember that Sean’s birthday is June 20th," which would be followed by Alexa replying "Okay, I’ll remember that Sean’s birthday is June 20th."

While Alexa's going to use this ability to recall and repeat the information you ask it to remember, this ability could prove more handy in a future iteration. For instance, you could tell Alexa "Remind me to call Sean on his birthday," and the assistant would set a reminder for that date.

Sarikaya also explained that Alexa will be getting better at remembering context in multiple-step conversations. This feature, which will roll out to the US, the U.K. and Germany before other areas, will mean you don't need to use as many pronouns in subsequent responses.

A conversation that exemplified this track had a user ask "Alexa, how is the weather in Seattle?" and then reply to Alexa, saying "What about this weekend?" without having to say "weather" or "Seattle."

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Sarikaya explained that the Alexa Brain group's major imperatives revolve around making it easier for users to access the more-than-40,000 Alexa Skills available, and training the assistant to retain contextual information. This way you're not having to re-explain things to Alexa, like a family member who's having trouble with their memory.

An example of how Alexa could proactively suggest skills showed a user asking how to get out stains, followed by Alexa presenting the user with the Tide Stain Remover skill.

Credit: Shaun Lucas