A new feature may now make it easier to ask Alexa follow-up questions

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Chatting with Amazon Alexa doesn’t always produce the most seamless conversations. When she’s not ignoring you altogether, or laughing at you, she always requires you to preface your questions before she’ll actually give you an answer. And let’s be honest — it can be oh so exhausting to constantly say “Alexa” before starting every request or inquiry. But luckily, it seems as though we can finally rid ourselves of this first-world problem, as Alexa is making it easier for you to ask follow-up questions without saying her name again.

Currently available on all Alexa-enabled devices, including the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Spot, this follow-up mode only works if Alexa is absolutely “confident you’re speaking to her,” Amazon says. So be sure to ask your follow-ups quickly — you have just five seconds between the end of Alexa’s response and the start of your follow-up to hold the smart assistant’s attention. You can tell whether or not Alexa is still listening to you and ready for your next query if her blue indicator light ring remains on. Once it switches off, you’ll have to say her wake word again.

In order to get this functionality to work, you’ll actually have to turn on follow-up mode for Alexa. As Amazon notes in its customer service page regarding this new feature, you’ll need to go to your Alexa app, then select settings from the menu. Select your device, and then scroll down to follow-up mode and toggle it on (it remains off by default). Of course, Amazon must note that “While Alexa is active, your questions, requests, and related information are processed in the Cloud.”

There are a number of situations in which Alexa will not remain active. If audio is playing (which is to say there’s music, an audiobook, or a call going on), Alexa will immediately go back to sleep after she answers your question. If you end your conversation with “Alexa,” you won’t be able to suddenly change your mind (without saying “Alexa” first). So don’t say, “stop,” “cancel,” “go to sleep,” or “thank you” if you still have things you need from the assistant. And finally, if Alexa “detects that speech was background noise or that the intent of the speech was not clear,” she also won’t respond to your follow-up query.

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