Amazon Alexa wish list: The features we want to see

Just a few helpful suggestions

Our Amazon Alexa wish list
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Amazon's Alexa is the most popular of the voice assistants so far, and for good reason: it's beginner and family friendly, it works with just about everything and it doesn't cost much to get started.

But Alexa is so far from perfect, it's sometimes laughable. There is so much room for improvement when it comes to day-to-day interactions and keeping up with its main rivals, Google Assistant and Apple's Siri.

Read this: Amazon Alexa - the missing manual

We know Amazon is hard at work in areas like smart displays, emotional AI and integrating Alexa into the TV experience. But we thought we'd come up with some of the features we'd like to see Amazon make, from quick fixes to more long-term overhauls.

Got a feature you'd like to see (hear?) on Alexa? Let us know in the comments below.

Please, give us multiple Spotify accounts

We're not asking for the Voice Match that Google offers, where you can link your actual voice to your Spotify/Netflix accounts. Just the ability to assign more than one Spotify account to the people in an Amazon Household. Right now, to use more than one Spotify account you have to say, "Alexa, switch profile" to switch actual Amazon accounts as a fudge.

Maybe future commands could include, "Alexa, switch to Sophie's Spotify" or,"Alexa, play American Pie on Hugh's Spotify". And obviously an equivalent to Voice Match would be ideal. Because everyone (couples, flatmates, families) knows sharing Spotify accounts never works - and it's killing us.

Be more IFTTT

We kinda wish there was a more open IFTTT-style control over Alexa commands, so you could virtually run them on demand. The beauty of Alexa is how nuanced you can make commands, but when it comes to Routines and groups, it's impossible to harness. If we automate a playlist, for example, we'd like to be able to add a sleep alarm. Or, ask for a specific radio station. The experience would be more powerful if you could make voice queries and then save them for automation.

Get more conversational on music requests

There’s obviously a formula to follow for commands, but becoming more conversational is one of the big future steps for assistants like Alexa — and compared to Google Assistant, it’s lagging.

It means you’re restricted to specific requests, like, “Alexa, play Malibu by Anderson .Paak from Spotify.” Really, we should be able to say things like “Alexa, play the newest Anderson .Paak album” or “Alexa, shuffle some songs from Anderson .Paak” without it telling us that we don’t have anything from that artist in our Amazon Music library (even if we do and Spotify is set as the default music service) or dealing with inane answers like, “Sorry, I couldn’t find Shuffle by Anderson .Paak”.

And smart home controls

Alexa needs to get more conversational around multiple voice commands for smart home controls. Sure it's neat saying "Alexa, turn the bedroom lights on" but the way we end up talking is, "Alexa, turn the bedroom and bathroom lights on" or even "Alexa, turn the bedroom lights on - and the bathroom" and it needs to be able to handle those requests just as well.

Amazon Alexa wish list: The features we want to see

Become an ultimate home hub

The Echo Plus was a great start, but we're a little disappointed that the Zigbee hub that was included, wasn't expanded upon for the second generation. Obviously, Zigbee is only part of the smart home story but the experience of running Philips Hue bulbs without a separate bridge makes us wistful for getting rid of the other white boxes connected to our routers.

Improve Alexa's weather knowledge

When we ask Alexa whether we need to wear a jacket today in central London, it should let us know if it’s going to rain, not hit us with a brick wall of nothingness. More specific weather knowledge would be great.

Sort out podcasts

We recommend using the AnyPod skill to play podcasts using Alexa as the voice assistant isn't very good at finding the right episode or letting you subscribe via voice. But this kind of audio activity should be nailed on for a voice-first platform like Alexa, even if we are seeing the growth of smart displays like the Echo Show. To be fair to Amazon, it's just as messy on Google Assistant, so much so it also made our Google Assistant features wish list.

Amazon Alexa wish list: The features we want to see

Time-based Flash Briefings

Alexa's Flash Briefings can be a great step in your morning routine, catching you up on the news of the day. Unfortunately, if you've got a lot of sources you want to turn to then your Briefing can balloon into a crazy amount of time. We wish you could simply set a time limit for your Briefing in the Alexa app, and then maybe Alexa could pool together stories from your favorite sources and read them out instead.

Emergency features

As we enter a voice-filled world, it's only natural that we find new ways to arm ourselves in the case of emergencies. If you've fallen or can't reach your phone for whatever reason being able to say "Alexa, call 9-1-1" could save lives. Sure, Amazon will have to work around regulations that require devices calling 9-1-1 to be able to receive incoming calls, but that's do-able. Similarly, Alexa should be able to receive Emergency Alert System messages, from AMBER Alerts to Severe Weather Alerts to, yes, Presidential Alerts. The more ways Alexa can inform us or keep us save, the better.

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