Amazon has unveiled a range of new Echo devices, and accompanying all the products, is Alexa.
Alexa is the name Amazon has given to the ‘personality’ behind its voice-controlled speaker – its equivalent of Microsoft’s Cortana or Apple’s Siri - which will respond to your requests, be it choosing music from Spotify or ordering a takeaway via Just Eat.
The new devices revealed in Seattle, US, include a cheaper Amazon Echo with better sound, the Echo Plus which can act as a smart home hub and the Echo Show which has a touch screen.
How does Alexa work?
Alexa springs into action whenever you call its name (known as its ‘wake word’). So it could be:
“Alexa, what’s the weather tomorrow?”
Alexa will then respond verbally from the speaker.
Where do Alexa’s responses come from?
Amazon hosts all the responses in the cloud, which is continuously being improved with new skills. At the moment, Alexa has over 3,000 of these skills.
Everything you tell Alexa is processed in the cloud, where it is quickly interpreted using Amazon Echo’s sophisticated set of algorithms.
Does Alexa listen to my private conversations?
No. Amazon has said that Alexa will not register anything you say until you say the wake word. You’ll know when Alexa is listening and streaming because Amazon Echo’s lights will turn blue.
There’s also a dedicated mute button, which will turn the lights red when pressed, meaning that all listening is completely switched off – even the ‘Alexa’ prompt will go unheard and Alexa will not respond.
What apps does Alexa work with?
A number of providers have developed versions of their apps especially for Amazon Echo. If you’re interested in music, you won’t be forced to use Amazon Music, and can also use Spotify or the TuneIn radio app if you prefer.
At the moment, the likes of Just Eat, Uber, National Rail, EDF Energy, Hive and Philips Hue are on board in the UK, giving you the ability to order a takeaway, book a car or check train times through your speaker.
Can I change the Alexa wake word prompt?
If you’re daughter’s called Alexa, it may wreak havoc on your home whenever you call her name. This is why Amazon has set-up two alternative prompts: ‘Amazon’ or ‘Echo’.
Where can I buy Amazon Echo?
Amazon Echo can be purchased from the Amazon UK website today, but the latest products will not be released until the 31 October.