Once you enable the right settings, you won’t need to say “Alexa” or “Hey Google” again to ask more questions.
Senior Writer, TechHive |
Today’s Best Tech Deals
Picked by TechHive’s Editors
Top Deals On Great Products
Picked by Techconnect’s Editors
Saying the wake work for Alexa or Google Assistant over and over in a single conversation gets old fast (“Hey Google, turn the volume down; hey Google, turn the volume down again”), but it’s easy to set both assistants to listen for more questions or commands without having to say the wake word over and over again.
For Alexa, the feature is called “Follow-up Mode,” while Google Assistant calls it “Continued Conversations.” Both features do essentially the same thing: they make Alexa or Google Assistant keep listening for a few seconds after an initial question or command, allowing you to ask a follow-up question or issue a second command without repeatedly saying “Alexa” or “Hey Google.” (Apple’s Siri assistant doesn’t have an equivalent follow-up feature yet.)
Of course, turning on either Follow-up Mode or Continued Conversations raises some questions, such as just how long Alexa and Google Assistant will keep listening after an initial question, under what circumstances they’ll ignore follow-up questions, and how to ask them to stop listening. Both Alexa and Google Assistants have their own rules about when they’ll keep listening, for how long, and how to make them go back to sleep.
How to enable Alexa’s Follow-up Mode
- Open the Alexa app on your iOS or Android device, tap the menu button, tap Settings > Device Settings, then pick an Echo or another Alexa-enabled device. (Yes, you’ll have to repeat these steps if you want to activate Follow-up Mode on another device.)
- Scroll down to the General section, tap Follow-up Mode, then toggle on the Follow-up Mode setting.
- Next, give it a try. For example, you can ask “Alexa, what’s the weather?” Once she gives you a weather report, you can ask her “What’s the weather tomorrow?” without saying “Alexa” again.
A few things to keep in mind about Alexa’s Follow-up mode:
- After you ask your initial question, Alexa will keep listening for about five seconds or so. If you don’t say anything else during that time, she’ll go back to sleep until she hears the wake work again.
- Even if Follow-up Mode is enabled, Alexa won’t keep listening if the Echo is playing music, or if she isn’t sure you were talking to her.
- Alexa will also stop listening if you end the conversation by saying something like “Thank you,” “Cancel,” “Stop,” or “Go to sleep.”
How to enable Google Assistant’s Continued Conversations mode
- Open the Google Home app on your Android or iOS device, tap Settings, then tap More Settings under the Google Assistant services heading.
- Tap the Assistant tab, tap Continued Conversation, then toggle on the Continued Conversation setting. On Android devices, you’ll also need to enable the Shared devices setting.
- Now, give Continued Conversation mode a spin. Try saying something like “Hey Google, turn the volume up,” and then “Turn the volume up again.”
A few things to keep in mind about Continued Conversation mode:
- Unlike Alexa’s Follow-up Mode, the Continued Conversation setting applies to all your compatible Google Home and Nest devices, so there’s no need to go back and enable the setting for each device.
- Google Assistant will keep listening for eight seconds after your initial question. If you don’t ask anything else, Assistant will go back to sleep.
- Google Assistant won’t listen for follow-up questions if alarms or timers are going off, if it’s playing music or a video, or during a phone call. Google Assistant will also stop listening if you start talking to someone else.
- You can end the conversation by saying “Thank you,” “Thanks Google,” or “I’m done.”
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart home and home entertainment products.
Plus, Amazon just launched a new sale on Fire TV devices exclusively for Prime members.
After purchasing an Amazon Alexa-enabled device, you may have found yourself saying the wake word “Alexa” more times in a given day than you’re comfortable with. A new feature called “follow-up mode” may change that.
Now available on all hands-free Alexa-enabled devices set to US English, this feature lets you make follow-up requests without repeating the wake word.
“The blue indicator light on the Echo device remains on for a few seconds, letting you know that Alexa is active and ready for your next request,” Amazon explained in a support note. So, if you see the blue ring at the top of your device, you know Alexa is still listening.
This new feature is toggled off by default, so you’ll need to enable it manually. To do that, just open the Alexa app, go to the menu and select Settings, select your device, then scroll down to Follow-Up Mode and use the toggle to turn it on.
Amazon noted that this feature will not work when music, books, or other audio is playing; when you end a conversation with Alexa by saying “stop,” “cancel,” “go to sleep,” or “thank you;” or when “Alexa is not confident you’re speaking to her.” Alexa will not respond to follow-up requests “i f she detects that speech was background noise or that the intent of the speech was not clear,” Amazon wrote.
Meanwhile, Alexa has been struggling a bit as of late. The digital assistant went down for several hours earlier this month and has been freaking people out by creepily laughing, seemingly out of nowhere.
In other Amazon news, the online retail giant just launched a new sale on Fire TV devices exclusively for Prime members. Normally priced at $39.99, the Fire TV Stick , which includes an Alexa voice remote, can now be yours for just $24.99. The latest-generation Fire TV , which supports 4K and normally sells for $69.99, is now just $44.99. These prices are even lower than they were during the last Fire TV sale. If you’re not already a Prime member, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to snag the deal.
Mar 14, 2018, 3:00 pm EST | 1 min read
If you frequently give Alexa several voice commands in a row for various tasks, you may be pleased to know that Amazon has made it a lot easier and quicker to do so.
Until now, you had to say the wake word first (“Alexa”, unless you changed it) for each command you give. This can feel unnatural if you often give multiple commands in a row. You can set up a routine to have multiple tasks occur all at once with a single voice command, but that’s really only good for things that you perform regularly. Sometimes, you want to give a series of commands on the fly and don’t necessarily need a routine to issue those commands regularly.
This is where Alexa’s new “Follow-Up Mode” comes in handy. This mode lets you ask Alexa follow-up questions or shout out another command without saying the wake word again. Here’s how to enable it.
Open up the Alexa app and tap the menu button in the top-left corner of the screen.
Select “Settings” from the list.
Choose the Echo device on which you want to enable this new feature. Yes, unfortunately you have to enable it on each device individually, as there’s no universal setting for it.
Scroll down until you see the “Follow-Up Mode” option and toggle it to the on position.
With the option enabled, Alexa will keep listening for five additional seconds after she responds to your last command or question. Here’s an example:
This also works with smarthome commands:
Those are just a couple of examples demonstrating how this works. Obviously, be mindful of the fact that Alexa is still listening for a few seconds after she confirms a voice command, so it could be easy for her to accidentally trigger if you continue conversing with a friend right afterward.
If you frequently give Alexa several consecutive voice commands for various tasks, you may be happy to know that Amazon has made the task a lot easier and faster.
Up to now, you had to say the waking word first (“Alexa”, unless you changed it ) for each command you give. This may seem unnatural if you often give several commands as a result. You can set up a routine so that multiple tasks occur at the same time with a single voice command, but this is really good only for the tasks you perform regularly. Sometimes you want to give a series of commands on the fly and do not necessarily need a routine to issue these commands regularly.
It’s here that Alexa’s new “Follow-Up Mode” is very handy. This mode allows you to ask Alexa follow-up questions or shout another order without repeating the word. Here’s how to activate it.
Open the Alexa application and press the menu button in the upper left corner of the screen.
Select “Settings” from the list.
Choose the Echo device on which you want to enable this new feature. Yes, unfortunately you have to enable it on each device individually because there is no universal setting for this.
Scroll down until you see the “Follow-Up Mode” option and toggle it to the on position.
With the option enabled, Alexa will continue to listen for five more seconds after responding to your last order or question. Here is an example:
It also works with smarthome commands:
These are just a few examples of how this works. Obviously, be aware that Alexa is still listening for a few seconds after confirming a voice command, so it might be easy for her to accidentally trigger if you continue to converse with a friend right after that.
Here we are again discussing the new hyper nugget, and that’s the most famous “Alexa.” This voice response echo is not new in the tech world but if you’re coming across it for the first time, don’t worry about a thing as I will brief you on this hyper-tech voice responder.
Talking about this nugget, Alexa is known to be one of the most significant Amazon inventions presently connected with some number of web services to make a higher tech intelligence. Alexa acts as a manservant (maid per se) that can carry out any instructed task/duties. This shouldn’t scare you away from its cold. Every Alexa-enabled device is a plus to have in your home and, with a little tuning, it proves to be a very awesome amigo.
Most of the Alexa skills are not placed on default mode, merely saying that to get other skills on and going you will have to follow the required and proper activation steps before using each one for the very first time.
How to Startup Alexa’s Commands / Skill
To get started all you need to do is follow up the voice prompt instructions. While other of the commands required to be tuned in via the Alexa app or directly from the Amazon’s website. To start up this follow the prompts below:
- Search for the skill’s name and then select the Enable button.
- To do this through the Alexa app, you can simply do that by selecting the main menu button and choose the Skills option. From here you can browse Alexa skills by criteria/categories. You can also search for skills by keyword or name through this same interface.
- I prefer using Amazon’s website instead of the designated app; you have to be logged into the account that is associated with your Alexa-enabled device.
- Next, click on the drop-down menu and choose Alexa Skills. From here you can search for skills by keyword or name. You’ll also be taken to the Alexa Skills section of the website after performing your initial search.
- Once you click the Enable button associated with a particular skill it will then be activated on all of your Alexa-enabled devices, assuming that you’ve registered them with the same Amazon account, and will be ready for use.
You’ll notice in the lists below that many Alexa skills are called by using trigger words like open, start, play and ask.
Alexa, ask the bartender to pick a drink: this command is for cocktail lovers which provides you with recipes and information on how to get it done with the available products.
News, Traffic and Weather Skills
While saying Alexa, what’s the weather? It will return the current conditions in your area, the majority of news and weather information disseminated by Alexa is done through Flash Briefings. When the drop-down menu appears, tap the Settings option.
The Scripture (Bible)
Here you say the command; Alexa, ask the Bible App for the day’s verse: This command reads the verse of the day out for you. Better still you can get it customized to a particular book in the Bible.
Although Alexa is operated strictly by voice there are some pretty cool games available for you to play such as “Yes Sire”: Though this game is not suitable for all ages due to its violent exhibitions and content materials.
The skills below are designed to help you with translations from an original language to another: You can boot up the command with Alexa, ask translated to say am coming in French: This translated features 36 other languages outside of English. But for more effectiveness and functionality your origin language must be English.
Your Alexa-enabled device can also function as a fitness coach, simply say this command; Alexa, start seven minutes work-out. This skill takes you through some series of exercises for fit keeping and health status.
Night Relaxation Sounds
These Alexa skills may not fit into one of the categories above, but this one is perfect in its role. Say the command Alexa, open sleep sounds. This includes standard sounds like storms, whispers attached with lots of quality sensible and sweet noise that play on a loop. But this command is majorly used during your night rest.
This skill helps you in verifying your bank details and other valid informations about your account. Here is the command; Alexa, ask capital one what’s my account balance: as earlier said it enables you to transacts, make credit card payments and whole lots of transactions via voice.
Wow. Impressive skills Alexa got here, well I just decided to drop down some crucial commands that can be very much useful to us during our daily routines. Feel free share this article with your world for I believe someone out there is in need of this information.
Don’t forget to comment or remind us of not listed commands which you stumbled on and you’ve got 100% liberty to surf our various categories for more.
- To use Alexa Care Hub , create a Care Hub invitation for the other person (either a caregiver or family member) from the “More” menu in the Alexa app and follow the setup instructions.
- After it’s configured, you can monitor Alexa activity, drop in and message the family member, and configure Care Hub Settings from the Alexa Care Hub entry in the “More” menu of the Alexa app.
- Alexa Care Hub is a feature available in all Alexa-enabled devices that lets family members and caregivers stay in closer contact with anyone who needs extra care or monitoring.
A smart speaker like the Amazon Echo is a great resource for older family members who may need extra help or monitoring. It’s unobtrusive – an Echo speaker doesn’t draw attention to itself as a medical or monitoring device, for example – and yet it has the potential to warn caregivers if there’s a potential problem. That’s the idea behind Alexa Care Hub, which is a free feature you can enable on any Alexa device.
After you set up Alexa Care Hub, Alexa connects to a remote caregiver’s phone, whether they are concerned relatives or a medical professional like a part-time nurse. Alexa can send alerts to let the caregiver know when it has been used and warn if it hasn’t been used by a certain time during the day.
There’s a dashboard to see how frequently Alexa has been used throughout the day (though the information is filtered for privacy, so you can’t see exactly what Alexa has been asked to do). And the Alexa device can be used to reach out to an emergency contact with a simple command like “Alexa, call for help.”
How to use Alexa Care Hub
Here you can configure the emergency contact number, call, message, or Drop In, and configure alerts that let the caregiver know about the family member’s activity.
How to set up Alexa Care Hub
2. Tap “More” in the bottom right of the screen.
3. Tap “See More” and then tap “Care Hub.”
- If you are setting this up for an Alexa that’s in a family member’s home, for example, tap “Provide Support” and then use the link to send an invitation to your family member.
- If you are setting up the Care Hub for yourself, you’ll need to invite a family member to connect with.
4. Whichever family member sent the invitation needs to wait for the other person to accept the invitation. That person should accept the invitation that arrives via email and follow the instructions to complete the setup, which concludes with creating a PIN for security.
5. If you don’t already have Alexa installed on your phone, you’ll be prompted to install the app and set up an account.
Alexa can print certain items via your voice. Just ask her.
Did you know you can ask Amazon’s Alexa to print something on your HP printer? Yep, by getting the right information from your printer and enabling the correct skill through Alexa, you can direct a print job to your HP printer simply by speaking to Alexa.
The trick is to first snag your printer’s email address. You then enable the HP Printer skill through Alexa on your mobile device. Then it’s time to enlist Alexa’s aid in printing. You can ask your favorite voice assistant to print different types of items, including your shopping list, checklist, games, forms, and more. Let’s check it out.
1. Find Your Printer’s Email Address
First, you need to determine your HP printer’s email address. Check the various screens on your printer’s control panel to see if an email address pops up. If not, you can print a Web Services information sheet. Again, browse through the screens on the printer’s control panel. You should find one screen for Web Services. Select that screen. You should then see an option to Print Information Sheet. Select that screen to print the sheet.
If the email address doesn’t appear on the sheet, then you probably need to enable Web Services. To do this, open your browser and type the IP address for your printer (the address should appear on the Web Services information sheet you just printed). At your printer’s configuration page, select the tab for Web Services and then click on the Enable button.
After Web Services is enabled, your printer should automatically print another Web Services information sheet displaying the email address you need. Click OK in the Web Services window in your browser.
Updated Sep 30, 2019, 2:11 pm EST | 1 min read
Alexa’s new “Brief Mode” makes her a bit less chatty when responding to commands. Here’s exactly what Brief Mode does and how you can turn it on and off.
Most notably, Brief Mode makes Alexa stop shouting “OK!” after every single smarthome command, replacing that with a subtle confirmation chime instead. Amazon also claims that Brief Mode will make Alexa a but less verbose when she responds with some types of information, but we haven’t yet been able to find any commands where that’s true.
Update: To access Brief Mode options, open the Alexa app on your phone and head to menu > Settings > Alexa Account > Alexa Voice Responses. You’ll see a “Brief Mode” switch here, which you can tap to toggle Bried Mode on and off.
Brief Mode is still rolling out to users, so you may not have access to it yet. When the feature becomes available to you, Alexa will automatically tell you about it when she responds to your next command. She’ll also ask you if you want to enable the feature. You can also enable it (or disable it if it’s already turned on) within the Alexa app.
To start, open up the app and tap the menu button in the top-left corner of the screen.
Tap the “Settings” command on the menu that appears.
Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings page and tap the “Alexa Voice Responses” option.
Hit the toggle switch next to “Brief Mode” to turn the feature on or off.
If you’ve played with Brief Mode and have found an example of Alexa being less chatty, join the discussion and let us know!
Alexa isn’t difficult to set up. But after the initial startup chores are complete, perhaps the most common question people ask is, “What do I do now?” It’s a reasonable question, especially if you’re looking at an Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Plus, which give you no hints about what your next step is supposed to be. As a way of helping you answer the “Now what?” question, this Cheat Sheet takes you through a few important initial tasks and customizations, as well as a fistful of voice commands to make Alexa do some useful and fun things.
10 Must-Do Alexa Setup Chores
When you first get your Alexa device, you may be tempted to rip it out of the box, plug it in, and then start talking. Who can blame you? However, if you want to get the most out of your initial Alexa experiences, there are a few tasks you should run and a few settings you should customize as soon as you can:
- Get the Alexa app. You can perform a few basics without the Alexa app, but you’ll need this chunk of software on your mobile device if you want to maximize your Alexa investment. Go to your device’s app store to install the Alexa app.
- Train your voice. The more Alexa knows your voice, the better the service works. To get Alexa off to the best start with your voice, you need to do some training. Say, “Alexa, learn my voice,” and then follow Alexa’s prompts.
- Specify your location. Useful Alexa services such as the weather and traffic need to know where you’re located, so make sure your location is accurate. In the Alexa app, tap Devices→Echo & Alexa, tap your Alexa device, and then tap Location. If you don’t feel comfortable entering your exact address, it’s fine to enter just your zip code or postal code.
- Set your default music provider. Alexa assumes you want to get your tunes from Amazon Music, but if you use another provider, such as Spotify, you should set up that service as your default for music. Choose Menu→Settings→Music, tap Choose Default Music Services, select the service you want to use, and then tap Done.
- Configure your Flash Briefing. If left un-curated, your Flash Briefing can get very long as various skills add themselves to this service. To gain some control, choose Menu→Settings→Flash Briefing; then, for each skill you don’t want to hear in your Flash Briefing, tap that skill’s switch to Off.
- Set your destination for traffic reports. Alexa needs to know both your starting point and your destination to give you a traffic report. To fill in these details, choose Menu→Settings→Traffic.
- Customize your sports teams. Unless you’re a fan of the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the New England Patriots, Alexa’s default sports teams will just make you angry. You can fix this by choosing Menu→Settings→Sports, removing the teams you don’t care about (or actively dislike), and replacing them with the teams you prefer.
- Connect Alexa to your calendar. Using voice commands to add appointments and find out your upcoming schedule is one of Alexa’s best features. However, this only works if you tell Alexa which calendar service to use. Choose Menu→Settings→Calendar; then tap Google, Microsoft, Apple, or Microsoft Exchange.
- Enable Kid Skills. If you have kids, Alexa can be great fun, especially because there are thousands of skills aimed at children. You don’t see those skills by default, however. To change that, choose Menu→Settings→Alexa Account→Kid Skills; then tap the Allow Kid Skills switch to On.
- Connect your contacts. If you want to use Alexa for hands-free voice and video calls to people in your mobile device’s Contacts app, you need to give Alexa permission to access those contacts. For iOS, choose Settings→Amazon Alexa, and then tap the Contacts switch to On; for Android, choose Settings→Apps→Amazon Alexa→Permissions, and then tap the Contacts switch to On.
The 50 Most Useful Alexa Voice Commands
Alexa is billed as a “virtual personal assistant,” and to earn that title it needs to make your life easier, simpler, and more convenient. Does Alexa do that? If the following 50 voice commands are the evidence, then I’d have to say the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
- “Alexa, what time is it?”
- “Alexa, what is today’s date?”
- “Alexa, what’s the weather like?”
- “Alexa, play my Flash Briefing.”
- “Alexa, play my sports update.”
- “Alexa, how’s the traffic?”
- “Alexa, what was the score of yesterday’s [team] game?”
- “Alexa, what’s the definition of [word]?”
- “Alexa, how do you spell [word]?”
- “Alexa, what are some synonyms for [word]?”
- “Alexa, how do you say [word] in [language]?”
- “Alexa, how many [units1] are in [number] [units2]?” (For example, “Alexa, how many cups are in one gallon?”)
- “Alexa, what is [number] [operator] [number]?” (For example, “Alexa, what is 123 times 456?”)
- “Alexa, what is [number1] percent of [number2]?” (For example, “Alexa, what is 15 percent of 235.75?”)
- “Alexa, tell me about [topic].”
- “Alexa, ask Wikipedia about [topic].”
- “Alexa, play some music.”
- “Alexa, play new music.”
- “Alexa, play [song,album,artist,playlist,genre,mood].”
- “Alexa, who sings this song?”
- “Alexa, pause/resume/next/previous.”
- “Alexa, set volume to [number from 1 through 10].”
- “Alexa, play [audiobook title].”
- “Alexa, enable [skill].”
- “Alexa, set alarm for [time].”
- “Alexa, wake me up every weekday at [time].”
- “Alexa, set a timer for [duration].”
- “Alexa, set a [name] timer for [duration].” (For example, “Alexa, set a tea timer for four minutes.”)
- “Alexa, what day of the week is [date]?”
- “Alexa, what’s on my calendar?”
- “Alexa, add an event to my calendar.”
- “Alexa, what’s my next event?”
- “Alexa, what am I doing tomorrow?”
- “Alexa, remind me to [task] at [time].”
- “Alexa, send a message.”
- “Alexa, call [name,device, orphone number].”
- “Alexa, video call [name,device, orphone number].”
- “Alexa, drop in on [nameordevice].”
- “Alexa, announce [message].”
- “Alexa, add [task] to my to-do list.”
- “Alexa, what’s on my to-do list?”
- “Alexa, add [item] to my shopping list.”
- “Alexa, order [item].”
- “Alexa, reorder [item].”
- “Alexa, what’s on my shopping list?”
- “Alexa, where’s my stuff?”
- “Alexa, what [business types] are nearby?” (For example, “Alexa, what restaurants are nearby?”)
- “Alexa, what’s the address/phone number of [name of business]?”
- “Alexa, discover my devices.”
- “Alexa, turn on [device, scene, group].”