How To Use Alexa's Answer Update

If there's one area in which Alexa has long lagged behind Google Assistant, it's general knowledge. While Amazon hasn't closed that gap yet, you'll now be the first to know when it does.
Credit: Tom's GuideCredit: Tom's Guide

Amazon is launching a feature called Answer Updates, first spotted by Voicebot.ai. It's rolling out to users in the coming days; Amazon clarified to TechCrunch that it will be offered randomly.

Here's how it works. Traditionally, when you ask Alexa a question it doesn't know the answer to, it will simply respond with a variant of "Sorry, I don't know that one," or "Hmm, I don't know that."

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Once this feature rolls out, when you ask Alexa a question it doesn't know the answer to, it will prompt you to enable Answer Updates.

After you enable the feature, Alexa will notify you once it learns the answer to a question you've asked previously. This could be a voice notification from Alexa itself, but since Alexa almost never speaks to users unprompted, it's more likely to be a smartphone notification from the Alexa app.

If you just can't wait for this feature, here's how to turn it on:

1. Log into an Alexa-enabled device. This can be an Echo device, a third-party Alexa device such as the Sonos One, or the Alexa app (for Android and iOS) on your smartphone.

2. Say "Alexa, turn on Answer Update." Alexa will respond "Okay, if you ask me a question and I don't know the answer, but I find out later, I'll notify you." There doesn't appear to be a way to toggle this feature in the Alexa app or on the Echo Show's and Echo Spot's screens yet.

3. To disable this feature, say "Alexa, turn off Answer Updates." Alexa will respond, "Okay, I won't notify you when I find out about answers to questions you asked earlier."

Alexa seems to respond this way whether Answer Updates is on or off, which may make it hard to remember whether the feature is enabled. Hopefully, this kink will be worked out in the coming weeks, as Amazon continues testing the feature.