Amazon has upgraded how voice assistant Alexa handles reminders and timers
Amazon has rolled-out new features to its Amazon Echo and Echo Dot smart speaker devices.
Alexa customers across the UK can now create named timers while cooking or doing household chores, as well as schedule reminders.
According to US retail company Amazon, this was one of the most requested features from Echo customers.
Until this latest update, Alexa was only capable of scheduling simple, unnamed timers – e.g. "Alexa, set a timer for a minute and a half".
Echo customers could set multiple timers running simultaneously, but these could not be named to help customers differentiate between them.
This could lead to some confusion, especially when using the smart speaker for timings while cooking.
With the latest tweak to Alexa, Echo owners can set a pasta timer as well as a garlic bread timer, and when the timer goes off, voice assistant Alexa will state which timer is done.
Additionally, customers can cancel or check the amount of time left on specific timers.
For example, “Alexa, cancel the pasta timer” or “Alexa, how much time is left on my garlic bread timer?”.
Echo owners can view a list of active timers within the Alexa app.
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Scheduled reminders is also included in the new update and enables Amazon Echo owners to get Alexa to remind them of important events or tasks anytime in the future.
For example, ask “Alexa, remind me to pick up the cat from the vets on Thursday at 5pm”, and Thursday at 5pm, the blue light ring will illuminate on your Echo devices while Alexa’s voice reminds you to pickup Cat Benatar.
Amazon Echo owners can also view all of their existing reminders – or schedule new ones – within the Alerts & Alarms tab of the Alexa companion app on iOS, Android and online.
Here are some examples of the reminders you can now set with Alexa –
- Remind me to pick up the dry cleaning on Thursday at 5 pm
- Remind me to change the laundry in 40 minutes
- Remind me to check Jack’s class project on September 5
- Remind me to pay rent June 1 at 10 am
- Remind me to send Dad’s Father’s Day card on June 18
- Remind me to pick up flowers at 6 pm
Reminders and named timers are already available in the United States.
The new reminders are currently available to UK customers, with the updated timers coming in the next few weeks.
The update will be rolling out to both Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices in the UK
The news comes as Amazon revealed that UK users could now specify colour and white light temperature in voice commands.
"We are very happy to announce tunable lighting control, a feature in the Smart Home Skill API, is now available in the UK, with support for Germany coming soon," Amazon shared.
The Smart Home Skill API means Echo owners can be more specific when controlling connected lightbulbs with their voice.
Echo owners can now use commands like “Alexa, set the living room light to green” or “Alexa, turn the kitchen yellow”.
The Amazon Echo now includes support for five shades of white.
So users can say “Alexa, set the bedroom light to daylight” after they've just woken up, or perhaps “Alexa, change the living room to cool white” when they're trying to get some work done.
These advanced features are supported with lights from Hive, Hue, LIFX, and bulbs connected through SmartThings.
Alexa has been able to control smart light fixtures for some time now – with Hue support, for example, being added back in April 2015.
However the integration with these connected bulbs has (until now) been fairly rudimentary.
It was possible to ask Alexa to illuminate a certain room – “Alexa, turn on the Hue lights in the lounge” – but more granular controls remained buried in the companion app on iOS or Android phones and tablets.
The Smart Home Skill API changes all that.
Unfortunately, it's only available to UK users for now – with support Germany planned for a later date.