If you already own an Amazon Echo, you’re already aware of how clever this AI-powered gadget really is. From ordering takeaways, reading out the latest headlines and weather reports, calling relatives, turning on lights, changing the heating, and sorting your calendar – there’s really not a lot that Alexa can’t do. Except if the talkative assistant can’t hear you. Or you can’t hear the response.
Fortunately, there are a number of settings which can be tinkered with to improve this experience.
Here are four simple settings you need to know about to –
Play A Sound When Alexa Is Triggered
If you’re sometimes unsure whether Amazon’s chatty assistant has heard you, Amazon lets you add a small notification sound. This can be especially useful if you haven’t got an Echo in every room – and are barking orders to a smart speaker in another room in your home. The notification sound will play after the speaker has correctly heard the wake word “Alexa” and after it has registered your request and starts loading the correct response.
Sound good? You can enable Request Sounds by launching the Alexa app on your iOS or Android smartphone and heading to Devices > All Devices > then pick the Echo you want to enable the feature on. Next up, tap Sounds and then and toggle “on” the Start of Request and End of Request options. And you’re done.
Slow Alexa Down
If you’re struggling to understand Alexa because of the speed of the spoken responses, this is the one setting you need to know about. Amazon lets you tweak how quickly Alexa speaks in the responses to your commands or questions.
You don’t need the Alexa app installed on your iPhone or Android handset to switch this feature on. Instead, you only need to ask Alexa when the assistant replies to you – with a command like “Alexa, speak faster” or “Alexa, speak slower.”
If you’re unhappy with the changes you’ve made, simply say “Alexa, speak at your default rate” to set everything back to same speed when you first unleashed Alexa from the box. In total, there are seven different speaking speed options – four faster than the default, two slower than when Alexa is fresh out of the box, and of course, the default speed.
If you haven’t got time to listen when Alexa repeats large chunks of your initial question in the response, there is a solution to that too. Enabling Brief Mode is perfect for those checking their wristwatch during Alexa’s answers.
With this mode enabled, instead of saying “OK, turning on the lights” – Alexa will simply reply “OK”.
To switch on this option, you’ll need to fire-up the Alexa app again. Head to the Settings menu, then Alexa Preferences and tap on the Voice Responses section and you’ll find a simple On/Off toggle for Brief Mode.
As omniscient as Alexa can seem, the digital secretary was unable to factor in the time of day in the volume of its responses. For example, asking to switch on a lightbulb late at night, Alexa would reply at the same booming volume used in the middle of the day.
Thankfully, Amazon addressed this issues last year with the introduction of Whisper Mode. This setting allows the smart speaker to recognise when you’ve lowered your voice – and will match the volume with its response. And best of all? You don’t need to switch on a toggle inside the Alexa app, Amazon has enabled the option by default.
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