Perhaps one of the major advantages of Amazon Alexa devices over competing smart speakers is that Alexa is always constantly making changes to its services and always learning new things. On Monday Amazon rolled out many new features to Alexa, including location-based services, wait actions, and email.
Because Alexa is tied to your Android or iOS smartphone, it can now use that data to set up routines and send reminders based on your location, specifically when entering or leaving an area.
If you’re out of your smartphone’s tethered area, it will send a notification via Alexa that you’re not in the area. This is helpful in setting up routines. Once you leave work, it can set the temperature at your home or turn the lights on in your home once you arrive in front of your house.
It can also send you reminders that are location-based. You can ask Alexa to remind you take out the garbage when you leave to go to work in the morning, for instance, or remind you to stop at the store to buy milk when you leave work.
It can also use location-based services to get information on local businesses. You can ask Alexa where the nearest pizza joint is or where the nearest gas station is and get an address. It can then connect to your phone, as once it locates the business, you can have Alexa call them.
You can set Alexa up to use a routine now with wait actions. It can wait a certain amount of time before performing a service. Instead of turning up your thermostat immediately when you leave work, you can instruct it to wait fifteen minutes after you leave work and then turn up the thermostat.
This works with music services as well. You can program specific music to begin when you arrive home or at a certain time of day or even to play white noise for you during your sleep schedule.
Alexa can now help you with your email as well. You can ask Alexa to check your email or if you received an email from a certain friend or work contact. It will return a summary of the new and important messages you received in the past twenty-four hours.
You can then delete, reply, or archive the emails that you access through Alexa. Currently, the service will work with Gmail, Outlook.com, Hotmail, and Live.com. Protected by a personalized voice PIN, email can be managed by individual people in your home.
It seems the more smart speakers and smartphones mature, the more the lines are becoming blurred between the two types of devices. You can do many of the same things on your smartphone or smart speaker. And in that realm, you can do some of the same things on other IoT devices as well.
But that is the hallmark of IoT devices: making your life easier. You could easily do many of these tasks by using your smartphone, but sometimes it’s just more convenient to do it hands-free with voice from across the room. Alexa now adding these new features just adds to that convenience.
Will you use Alexa’s new features with your Alexa device? Do you wish your competing smart speaker had these features? Jump in below in the comments and let us know.