Amazon Alexa is becoming more and more like a real person. Or at least, a real conversationalist. As per a recent post on Reddit, it would appear that the online retail giant’s artificial intelligence assistant has picked up a new skill: The ability to answer follow-up questions. While it doesn’t look as though Amazon has made an official announcement about the upgrade quite yet, it’s a pretty big deal that makes for much more natural dialogue (if you can call it that) between Alexa and you.
Now, theoretically, if you ask Amazon Alexa, “Alexa, what time is it in Shanghai?” you can follow up immediately with, “Alexa, is it raining there?” Sure, it’s a small difference (and you still have to preface each question with “Alexa”), but it’s an improvement all the same that ought to make our lives easier.
Strategically, it’s also high time that Amazon rolled out this feature to Alexa. After all, both Google Assistant and Google Home are able to understand follow-up questions, and do not require users to use specific phrases to ask them. But now, Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo and Dot seem to be catching up.
Of course, it’s still not a perfect system. In some cases, it looks like Alexa still doesn’t quite know what you’re talking about if you’re not specific enough, as one Redditor pointed out. After inquiring as to actress Carrie Fisher’s death, the Redditor then asked, “Alexa, how old was she?” Unfortunately, the AI assistant wasn’t able to provide an answer.
The update seems to have rolled out across all Echo devices, so if you have an Alexa-flaunting smart home device, you can give Amazon Alexa’s latest capability the ol’ college try. And hey, if it doesn’t work, specificity never hurt anyone, right?