Amazon announced a whole lot of new devices at its surprise September 2018 event, but that doesn't mean that it just rested on its laurels for Alexa. The company went big, upgrading Alexa with a number of new features.
It all starts at setup with something Amazon calls Frustration Free Setup. Amazon wants to make connecting smart devices to your home as simple as plugging it in, and part of this includes letting you connect devices to your Wi-Fi network either by using Alexa or by scanning a code on the back of the device with the Alexa app. Once the device is on the Wi-Fi network with your Echo device, the two will automatically connect.
Read this: The new Echo Plus
Frustration Free Setup devices on the new Amazon Smart Plug, AmazonBasics Microwave and new Echo devices.
Alexa will also better understand your routines, and can now proactively suggest things. This is called Alexa Hunches. Alexa will learn how you live and then if it notices something askew it'll pipe up. So if you say "Alexa, good night" and Alexa realizes that your lights are still on, or your door is unlocked, it'll say something like "Did you know your door is still unlocked?" just to make sure. Hunches will be available later this year.
Amazon is also diving into home security with Alexa Guard. Rather than making a full security system like Nest Secure, Amazon is turning your existing Echo devices into sentries. Alexa will listen for things like smoke detector and CO2 alarms and breaking glass. When it hears them, it'll record and send them to you. If you've got ADT, it can also send them to your monitor so that they can call in emergency services if needed. This debuts later this year.
Local Voice Control is a new feature that'll come in handy when your internet is down. If you've got an Echo Plus or new Echo Show with Zigbee hub built-in, Alexa will do smart home control right on the device via Zigbee. That way you can still exert some control of your smart home.
Alexa is also getting a new whisper mode. So if you've got a baby sleeping or have a massive hangover and you whisper to Alexa, Alexa will whisper back. This way, you can keep away your headache or avoid waking everyone else up.
Like Google Assistant, Alexa is getting multi-step requests. So you can add multiple things to your shopping list at once or do something like ask Alexa to play music on Pandora at a certain volume.
Alexa is also getting email integration with Gmail, Outlook and Hotmail, so you can ask her to check if you have any emails from anyone important. If that's too much work for you, Alexa is also getting some new music powers, including Tidal integration and the ability to send you a notification for new music releases from your favorite artists.
Finally, FreeTime is getting new abilities. Parents can now create routines for their children, Audible books for children and kids podcasts.