Alexa will soon be able to hear you whisper — and answer in kind

Amazon will introduce a new “whisper” mode to Alexa starting in October. This mode will enable all Alexa-enabled devices to listen for and respond to whispered speech and whisper a reply back. The mode came about as part of Amazon’s push for Alexa to incorporate more natural, intuitive language and cue in on conversational clues. The company has made consistent improvements to the Alexa system and voice recognition processes, and the Whisper mode is one of a bevy of new features.

Gone are the days when you wake your partner up first thing in the morning when asking Alexa for the weather. You can still get that information, of course; you just whisper, and Alexa will automatically whisper the response back to you.

The programming and logic involved in this process is complex. When you whisper, the words come out unvoiced, which means there is little to no vibration of the vocal cords. Emulating this response from an Alexa without simply lowering the volume takes a certain amount of creative thinking, but the entire process will be explained in December at the IEEE Workshop on Spoken Language Technology.

Whisper Mode is one of many features that have been added to Alexa over the past year, including Guard and Hunches. Guard lets you say, “Alexa, I’m leaving,” and the device will automatically arm and activate your security system. The system will also listen for the sound of glass breaking, smoke detectors, or carbon monoxide detectors and alert you via push notification if it hears any of these. This will be available on Echo devices later in the year.

Hunches allows Alexa to learn your daily routines and act on them. For example, if you tell Alexa goodnight, she may respond with, “Good night. You left your living room light on. Should I turn it off?” This feature gives Alexa more control over your connected devices, but adds a level of convenience in case you forget to turn anything off. This feature will also be available later in the year.

Alexa is also adding Tital, a music streaming service. This service will be available on all Echo devices and uses the Music Skill API introduced on September 20.

Product Review

Now that every speaker has Alexa, don't you want the best? Get the Sonos One

To compete in smart speaker space, Sonos could have just made a better-sounding Alexa speaker, but the company has a reputation to uphold, and went much further. Our Sonos One Review reveals how Sonos does Alexa better than Amazon.
Smart Home

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here are the best Alexa tips and tricks

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa has plenty of neat skills. So many, in fact, it seems like new ones appear every day. We've rounded up the top Echo tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your virtual assistant.
Deals

Amazon and Best Buy halve the price of the Facebook Portal for Mother’s Day

Amazon and Best Buy both cut the price in half for the Facebook Portal smart display for Mother's Day. The Portal's smart camera will follow you as you move around the room during video calls. The Portal also has Amazon Alexa built in.
Smart Home

Alexa, Google, Siri put their bilingual skills to the test in translation battle

One Hour Translation, an online translation company, compared how Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Siri stack up against one another in regard to translation capabilities. The results may surprise you.
Smart Home

SMEG debuts colorful dual-fuel Portofino 48-inch ranges for no-compromise cooks

When SMEG launches new kitchen appliances, you can count on retro-classic design, gorgeous high-end finishes, envy-inducing functional wizardry, and lofty prices. This week SMEG launched its Portofino Dual-Fuel 48-inch Pro-Style Range.
Deals

Walmart offers big price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet and Farberware

Walmart made deep price cuts on air fryers from La Gourmet, Farberware, and others. Air frying is faster, healthier, and easier to clean than traditional deep frying. You also can use most air fryers for baking, roasting, and grilling.
Product Review

4K in home security is finally here, thanks to Arlo’s Ultra UHD smart cam

The 4K home security camera is finally here! Class-leading image clarity and a super-wide field of vision makes Arlo Ultra an early contender for the year’s best smart cam. While there are definite quirks to the device, the device…
Deals

Amazon drops a killer Instant Pot deal, with prices under $60

Instant Pots are the popular kitchen device known for making cooking easier and faster. Thinking of finally getting yourself one? Amazon dropped the price of the Instant Pot Duo Mini. Prepare delicious meals this Easter Sunday with this…
Smart Home

I have seen the future, and it’s full of salad-making robots

Think that robots bussing tables, tossing salads and baking bread is a futuristic concept? It's actually not as far away as you might think. Robots took center stage at a food robotics summit in San Francisco this week, where they showed…
Smart Home

Ecobee leverages humor in a heated discussion with climate change skeptics

Ecobee cranked up the heat on climate change doubters. In observance of Earth Day, Ecobee and ad agency DCX released video of a social experiment that tested the effectiveness of humor in easing tension during discussions with skeptics.
Smart Home

Miele stuns with wireless probe, self-descaling java pot, and other new products

Miele rocked KBIS 2019 with waves of new appliances and features. The annual Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show is all about product launches and Miele's appliance reveal was like New York Fashion Week with a single designer.
Deals

Shark, Ecovacs, and Roomba robot vacuums get price cuts for spring

The weather's getting nice again, and we're all emerging from our winter-long hibernation. So it's time once again to also start on that spring cleaning you've been putting off. But who really wants to clean when you'd rather be outside? We…
Smart Home

Echo Plus (1st-gen) vs. Echo Plus (2nd-gen): How exactly do they compare?

Which Echo Plus should you buy? This guide compares the first-generation Echo Plus its latest successor, allowing you to get a better idea regarding the ins and outs of each device.
Smart Home

Making hard-boiled eggs isn’t hard — here’s how to do it perfectly every time

With the help of science or some kitchen gadgets, making hard-boiled eggs can be a little easier. It may not be the hardest task in the world, but a few of these methods are foolproof.