Amazon's Alexa Gains Follow-Up Mode for Back-to-Back Requests Without Repeating Wake Word

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    Amazon's Alexa personal assistant, built into dozens of different products, today gained a new "Follow-Up Mode" that's designed to allow users to ask multiple questions in succession without the need to repeat the "Alexa" wake up word.

    As noted by CNET, Follow-Up Mode allows Alexa to continue to listen for five seconds after an initial response to see if you have an additional request.

    During this five second listening period, the blue ring on an Alexa device will light up to indicate that Alexa is listening. Anything else you say during this time period will not require you to add "Alexa" into the statement to wake up the Alexa device. If you don't say anything else, your Alexa device will go back to sleep until the next time the "Alexa" wake word is uttered.

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    With Follow-Up Mode, Alexa cannot respond to multiple requests, like "Turn the lights on and set the thermostat to 70," but you can ask two requests in succession. Asking "Alexa, turn on the lights" and then stating "Set the thermostat to 70" after the first "OK" from Alexa works, however.

    According to Amazon, Follow-Up Mode is designed to make sure Alexa only responds if a legitimate request is spoken rather than simple background noise. A conversation with Alexa can also be ended immediately by saying "Thank you" or "Stop" after an initial request, and Follow-Up Mode won't activate when listening to music, making a call, or listening to an audiobook.

    The new Follow-Up Mode can be enabled in the Settings section of the Amazon Alexa app. Select a device and then scroll down to the new "Follow-Up Mode" toggle. Follow-Up Mode is available for all Amazon Echo devices and some third-party devices as well, but it is limited to US English at the current time.

    The Alexa Follow-Up Mode, which seems like a useful new addition to Alexa, has no equivalent on Apple's devices like the HomePod at the current time. On Apple's speaker, you will need to activate it with a "Hey Siri" command before each request.

    The addition of this new feature comes just a few days after Amazon implemented a fix for an issue that was causing Alexa-enabled devices to spontaneously laugh, creeping out some Alexa users. Amazon said the issue was caused by Alexa mistakenly hearing the phrase "Alexa, laugh," which has now been changed to "Alexa, can you laugh?" to prevent accidental Alexa activations.

    Article Link: Amazon's Alexa Gains Follow-Up Mode for Back-to-Back Requests Without Repeating Wake Word
     
  2. BasicGreatGuy Contributor

    BasicGreatGuy

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    #2
    I like the idea of follow-up mode, provided it can be done while still being secure. Will be interesting to see what Apple comes up with.

    I do get frustrated at times, having to do the "hey, Siri" wake all the time.
     
  3. Karma*Police macrumors 68000

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    #3
    Agree it makes it more convenient but I still don’t trust Amazon or Google... or any other company whose main motive is to mine data for ad dollars. Not a fair trade at all... my data is worth far more than any digita assistant technology that’s not very smart.
     
  4. BasicGreatGuy Contributor

    BasicGreatGuy

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    #4
    Excellent point. If Apple can protect our privacy in this regard, it would be a game changer for many people.
     
  5. ericgtr12 macrumors 65816

    ericgtr12

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    #5
    This is awesome news, funny I had to hear it from MR and my weekly Alexa email didn't mention it.
     
  6. tubular macrumors 6502

    tubular

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    #6
    Also, after much discussion, they decided to replace the creepy random laughter with Alexa saying "Redrum! redrum!"
     
  7. viachicago22 macrumors 6502

    viachicago22

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    #7
    Just think, Siri, as soon as you can figure out initial requests you too can start working on follow up requests! Won’t that be fun?!
     
  8. ericgtr12 macrumors 65816

    ericgtr12

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    #8
    I'm not anti-Siri but really have never had a use for it on my iPhone so I just disabled it mostly because it comes up when I don't want to.
     
  9. parsonsmike macrumors member

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    #9
    I understand your point, but I'd argue that in this particular aspect, Amazon is much more like Apple than it is Google. Google doesn't sell anything except its users (yeah, I know they have some other arms to their company, but your eyeballs are the main product). Amazon sells a lot of stuff, both to end users through amazon.com, and to institutional players through AWS.

    The value to Amazon of the echo products is in ecosystem lock-in. They want to make Echo a convenient front-end to spending more of our $ on Amazon products. In that sense, it's the same as Apple & Siri. Siri encourage Apple device and service ecosystem lock-in (only runs on iOS & MacOS, only *completely* works with Apple Music and iCloud).

    So, ultimately, I think their motivations for collecting data are very different than google's. Not that that makes me trust them any more than google.
     
  10. twistedpixel8, Mar 10, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018

    twistedpixel8 macrumors regular

    twistedpixel8

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    #10
    I use Siri on my watch to set timers and Siri on my iPhone when I’ve already got into bed and I can’t be bothered to grab my phone again to set alarms. That’s pretty much it. Occasionally I set reminders with her.

    She’s actually incredible fast on Series 3 Apple Watch so I wish I had more use for her!
     
  11. Mike MA macrumors 68000

    Mike MA

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    #11
    I think this is one thing people sometimes are missing in regards to Siri - getting the feeling Apple is enhancing it regularly. Somehow you get the feeling Siri‘s AI has already reached it design-wise peak...
     
  12. mwd25 macrumors regular

    mwd25

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    #12
    Very useful. Been hoping for this since I got an echo. Using lights is a good example. Being able to say Alexa, turn on lights, set lights to 30%. Instead of having to make two separate requests is really nice. It sounds like it wouldnt be that big of a deal but it does get annoying, for me.
     
  13. parsonsmike macrumors member

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    #13
    Apple has been "enhancing" Siri since 2011, and yet about 75% of the time it still can't identify the correct person when I ask it to call someone from my contacts list.
     
  14. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #14
    Request
    "...Let me look that up on the web for you"
    Request #2
    "...Let me look that up on the web for you"
    Request #3
    "...Let me look that up on the web for you"
     
  15. madeirabhoy macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    hope google follow this. one of the most annoying things is when google doesnt understand you and you have to rephrase it, and say hey google all over again.

    or the wife will say can you set an alarm for 730, and you say hey google set an alarm for 730. then she says, actually 745. so you have to say hey google cancel the alarm. hey google set an alarm for 745
     
  16. Sill macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    A well thought out post, but I'd like you to consider that the issue isn't just the danger of which company has the data - its that the data is out there in the first place. Eventually someone or something is going to come along and make use of it, most likely in a way that puts our liberty and privacy somewhere at the back of the back of considerations.
     
  17. Recognition macrumors 6502a

    Recognition

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    #17
    When will they teach these assistants the word ‘and’?

    They can already do contextual follow up questions, just teach them to link requests together.
     
  18. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

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    Arlington, Texas
    #18
    It is indeed an excellent point, and Apple making Siri comprehensive while maintaining privacy would be HUGE.

    That said, the vast majority of use is simply not privacy critical. Who care's if Amazon knows what radio station(s) I listen to (via iHeartRadio), or when I turn on my lights, what temperature I keep the house, etc. What about trivia questions? Weather reports? Nope... and Nope!

    Now, I made a decision to connect ONE (1) of my calendars to Alexa for testing purposes. That means Amazon *does* know what I'm doing, however I'm still not sure I care. It's not a work calendar so only lists things like family doctor appointments, haircuts, and other activities. Does THAT matter? Maybe, but to some extent we already post about these on Facebook so at the end of the day it's not a deal killer. Work calendar's - particularly with customer names - are a different story though. THAT could potentially lead to corporate espionage... though I still doubt it would occur.

    Any other real-world use cases that would be a privacy impact?
     
  19. can$rules macrumors member

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    #19
    Google home will accept two commands in a single sentence, so you can say: hey Google cancel the alarm and set an alarm for 745.
     
  20. thisisnotmyname macrumors 68000

    thisisnotmyname

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    #20
    Amazon sells products but they are also a marketplace for an enormous number of other sellers. Much like Google connecting people trying to sell products all over the globe to you via advertising Amazon is also trying to connect people trying to sell products to you all over the globe, they just continue on to a transaction. Both parties are trying to build profiles on you in order to make money helping merchants convince you to buy stuff.
     
  21. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #21
    Request #4 "...and don't reply with let me look that up on the web for you"
    "I don't know what 'let me look that up on the web for you' means, but here's what I found on the web for 'let me look that up on the web for you'"
    :mad:

    ;)
     
  22. Rychiar macrumors 6502

    Rychiar

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    Waterbury, CT
    #22
    Siri needs this bad. SO annoying that I can't tell my HomePod to turn on two lights at once unless they're linked.
     
  23. gnipgnop macrumors 65816

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    #23
    That's what scenes are for.
     
  24. coolfactor, Mar 10, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018

    coolfactor macrumors 68040

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    #24
    This is where we are going. Come on Apple, let's see it.

     
  25. HobeSoundDarryl, Mar 10, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #25
    Actually, it appears we might be going more in this direction...


    ;)

    But, at least we seem slightly ahead of this now...


    ...because Siri will at least answer us.
     

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