Amazon allows customers to go back and listen to every voice commands they have ever made
Amazon Echo is a brilliant smart home device.
The 360-degree omni-directional speaker is powered by virtual assistant, dubbed “Alexa”.
The assistant lets Echo owners order dinner, check the weather, turn on the lights, adjust your thermostat, call a cab, play radio stations, podcasts, music and more, using only your voice. Amazon promotes the smart speaker with the tagline, Just Ask.
This nifty functionality is possible because the Amazon Echo is always listening for one of its wake words, like “Alexa”, “Amazon,” “Computer” or “Echo.”
When the smart home device hears one of the wake words, it will illuminate the circle of blue lights at the top of the cylindrical speaker – telling you the speaker is now recording.
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Things to ask Amazon's Alexa
The Echo will only record and store the wake word and the voice command that follows.
On its website, Amazon clarifies “When you use an Alexa device, we keep the voice recordings associated with your account to improve the accuracy of the results provided to you and to improve our services.”
However, the US retail company does allow Amazon Echo owners to listen back to the recordings it has kept.
Amazon lets users review any previous spoken commands, provide feedback to Amazon letting them know whether the smart speaker understood the request, and delete any recordings.
If you want to check-out your old recordings, you’ll need to download the Alexa companion app on your Android or iOS smartphone.
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Launch the app, then tap on the Settings menu, then History.
Given the sheer amount of voice commands that most Amazon Echo owners accumulate during the lifetime of the device, you’ll probably be confronted with an enormous catalogue of voice commands.
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Within the Alexa companion app, Amazon lets users listen back to audio recordings, and delete files
Tap on any of the recordings, which are listed in chronological order, to listen to the audio, review what Alexa thought you asked, and delete the file from Amazon’s servers.
If you want to delete more than one audio file, Amazon does provide a quick way to delete your entire back catalogue of voice commands.
To do this, head to amazon.com/mycd in your web browser.
From the list of devices registered to your Amazon account, select your chosen Alexa device, then tap Manage Voice Recordings, followed by Delete.
Amazon warns users, “if you delete these recordings, it may degrade your experience using the voice features.”
Every Echo device has a physical microphone button that disables its ability to listen.
Amazon includes a hardware button that kills the microphone array inside the Echo
Granted, that defeats the point of having an always-listening smart assistant in the home – but it could be useful it you’re worried about your privacy around the device.
The news comes days after reports online suggested that Amazon was planning to allow third-party companies to access and use the hardware that powers its Amazon Echo smart speaker.
Until now, Amazon has allowed third-party companies to integrate the Alexa smart assistant into their products – but without the seven-microphone array that powers the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot.
Companies looking to build Alexa into their products could apply to use the powerful seven-microphone array and software that enables the Echo to pick-out voice commands from other background noise.
Amazon uses beam-forming technology with its microphones to pin-point users.
Enhanced noise cancellation strips out any background hubbub, enabling the Amazon Echo to hear the spoken command – even when the speaker itself is playing music.
Opening up this technology to third-party companies could make the development of Alexa devices much quicker.
And since the hardware will use the same technology that powers the Amazon Echo, it will likely make them more accurate.