Amazon's Alexa Gains Follow-Up Mode for Back-to-Back Requests Without Repeating Wake Word

Amazon's Alexa personal assistant, built into dozens of different products, today gained a new "Follow-Up Mode" that's designed to allow users to ask multiple questions in succession without the need to repeat the "Alexa" wake up word.

As noted by CNET, Follow-Up Mode allows Alexa to continue to listen for five seconds after an initial response to see if you have an additional request.

During this five second listening period, the blue ring on an Alexa device will light up to indicate that Alexa is listening. Anything else you say during this time period will not require you to add "Alexa" into the statement to wake up the Alexa device. If you don't say anything else, your Alexa device will go back to sleep until the next time the "Alexa" wake word is uttered.


With Follow-Up Mode, Alexa cannot respond to multiple requests, like "Turn the lights on and set the thermostat to 70," but you can ask two requests in succession. Asking "Alexa, turn on the lights" and then stating "Set the thermostat to 70" after the first "OK" from Alexa works, however.

According to Amazon, Follow-Up Mode is designed to make sure Alexa only responds if a legitimate request is spoken rather than simple background noise. A conversation with Alexa can also be ended immediately by saying "Thank you" or "Stop" after an initial request, and Follow-Up Mode won't activate when listening to music, making a call, or listening to an audiobook.

The new Follow-Up Mode can be enabled in the Settings section of the Amazon Alexa app. Select a device and then scroll down to the new "Follow-Up Mode" toggle. Follow-Up Mode is available for all Amazon Echo devices and some third-party devices as well, but it is limited to US English at the current time.

The Alexa Follow-Up Mode, which seems like a useful new addition to Alexa, has no equivalent on Apple's devices like the HomePod at the current time. On Apple's speaker, you will need to activate it with a "Hey Siri" command before each request.

The addition of this new feature comes just a few days after Amazon implemented a fix for an issue that was causing Alexa-enabled devices to spontaneously laugh, creeping out some Alexa users. Amazon said the issue was caused by Alexa mistakenly hearing the phrase "Alexa, laugh," which has now been changed to "Alexa, can you laugh?" to prevent accidental Alexa activations.

Tags: Amazon, Alexa


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23 weeks ago

Agree it makes it more convenient but I still don’t trust Amazon or Google... or any other company whose main motive is to mine data for ad dollars. Not a fair trade at all... my data is worth far more than any digita assistant technology that’s not very smart.

Always laugh at this my data is valuable. Unless you spend 100s of thousands or millions of dollars a year, your online and digital assistance use data isn't individually much if anything. Credit card companies, banks, grocery stores your smart TV, and many other places know more about you than Amazon or Google.
Rating: 9 Votes
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23 weeks ago

Just think, Siri, as soon as you can figure out initial requests you too can start working on follow up requests! Won’t that be fun?!


Request
"...Let me look that up on the web for you"
Request #2
"...Let me look that up on the web for you"
Request #3
"...Let me look that up on the web for you"
Rating: 8 Votes
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23 weeks ago

Always laugh at this my data is valuable. Unless you spend 100s of thousands or millions of dollars a year, your online and digital assistance use data isn't individually much if anything. Credit card companies, banks, grocery stores your smart TV, and many other places know more about you than Amazon or Google.


THIS!!! It always amazes me that people really think that Google and Amazon are just snooping on them just to obtain their data. I mean they can snoop on me all they want and they wouldn't get enough data to put on 1/4 sheet of paper. I don't think I am very valuable in the grand scheme of things. Most places we do business with know so much more about us. Hell one of the biggest credit reporting agencies allowed our data to breeched and we still don't know the real extent of that. I have all my credit reports locked and use a monitoring service, but if you do anything these days your info is out there.

I also think Apple has done a good job marketing themselves as being big on privacy and people believe it, just like some people believe iPhones and Apple Watches are better than anything else out there. All about marketing and the image you paint for yourself. But no one REALLY knows!

At least Amazon gives you the option to turn it on or off, many times Apple adds stuff like this and you are stuck with it rather you like it or not because they never want to give options.
Rating: 7 Votes
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23 weeks ago
I like the idea of follow-up mode, provided it can be done while still being secure. Will be interesting to see what Apple comes up with.

I do get frustrated at times, having to do the "hey, Siri" wake all the time.
Rating: 7 Votes
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23 weeks ago

I think this is one thing people sometimes are missing in regards to Siri - getting the feeling Apple is enhancing it regularly. Somehow you get the feeling Siri‘s AI has already reached it design-wise peak...


Apple has been "enhancing" Siri since 2011, and yet about 75% of the time it still can't identify the correct person when I ask it to call someone from my contacts list.
Rating: 4 Votes
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23 weeks ago
Just think, Siri, as soon as you can figure out initial requests you too can start working on follow up requests! Won’t that be fun?!
Rating: 4 Votes
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23 weeks ago
When will they teach these assistants the word ‘and’?

They can already do contextual follow up questions, just teach them to link requests together.
Rating: 3 Votes
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23 weeks ago

I like the idea of follow-up mode, provided it can be done while still being secure. Will be interesting to see what Apple comes up with.

I do get frustrated at times, having to do the "hey, Siri" wake all the time.


Agree it makes it more convenient but I still don’t trust Amazon or Google... or any other company whose main motive is to mine data for ad dollars. Not a fair trade at all... my data is worth far more than any digita assistant technology that’s not very smart.
Rating: 3 Votes
Avatar
23 weeks ago

Agree it makes it more convenient but I still don’t trust Amazon or Google... or any other company whose main motive is to mine data for ad dollars. Not a fair trade at all... my data is worth far more than any digita assistant technology that’s not very smart.


I understand your point, but I'd argue that in this particular aspect, Amazon is much more like Apple than it is Google. Google doesn't sell anything except its users (yeah, I know they have some other arms to their company, but your eyeballs are the main product). Amazon sells a lot of stuff, both to end users through amazon.com, and to institutional players through AWS.

The value to Amazon of the echo products is in ecosystem lock-in. They want to make Echo a convenient front-end to spending more of our $ on Amazon products. In that sense, it's the same as Apple & Siri. Siri encourage Apple device and service ecosystem lock-in (only runs on iOS & MacOS, only *completely* works with Apple Music and iCloud).

So, ultimately, I think their motivations for collecting data are very different than google's. Not that that makes me trust them any more than google.
Rating: 3 Votes
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23 weeks ago

I find IFTTT sorely lacking here. I can't string routines together to turn on my lights and entertainment system with one command because they're different technologies from different companies. But I can bark two commands to do them individually. It's something I can do with HomeKit but only by creating a room which isn't exactly ideal either but better than nothing.


There's a way to do it in IFTTT. Create the applets that you need to achieve each action, and make sure you use the same activation phrase(s) and AI response. If you do that, a single use of the activation phrase(s) will trigger all the actions. I've done that with a number of different systems & it works a treat.
Rating: 2 Votes
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