Talking to a smart assistant doesn’t feel natural, especially when simple tasks require multiple commands. But a new Alexa update allows the intelligent assistant to “infer” the skills you need to use based on the context of your requests. Amazon says the new feature should make Alexa feel more conversational and reduce the time it takes to use skills.
The new feature sounds a bit confusing, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. Alexa listens to your questions, answers them, and asks if you should use a skill related to your question. After asking how long a cup of tea should be steeped, for example, Alexa might say “five minutes” before asking “do you want me to set a timer for five minutes?”
In Amazon words, Alexa can now “deduce the latent objectives of the customers, of the implicit objectives in the requests of the customers but not directly expressed”. This feature should make using Alexa less frustrating, although it could get boring if Alexa misinterprets your “latent goals”.
In fact, Amazon says the first updated Alexa models would follow up requests for “chicken recipes” with “do you want me to play chicken sounds?” Alexa may be smarter than ever, but Amazon engineers have to do a lot of work to keep the smart assistant from getting boring.
The new Alexa feature is available for English speaking Alexa users in the United States. It should soon be rolled out in other languages and in other regions.