Since the launch of the original Echo in 2014, we’ve continued to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that are aimed at making interactions with Alexa magical experiences for customers. Customers interact with Alexa billions of times each week, and we’re excited by the many ways interactions with Alexa have become more natural and conversational over time.
These AI-based technologies include Alexa’s ability to handle combined requests, such as “add eggs, milk, and bread to my shopping list.” Other technologies let customers invoke skills without needing to remember the skills’ names. They adapt Alexa’s responses based on the context of the interaction, adjusting tone and stressing appropriate words. You can also ask, “Alexa, what should I watch?”—a new feature launching in beta this year on Fire TV, Alexa will provide a movie or TV recommendation just like a movie expert.
Interactions with Alexa, without the wake word
Interacting with ambient devices by just saying “Alexa” is delightful. However, you don’t usually repeat the names of your family and friends when you talk to them—it’s not natural. That’s why we’re thrilled to introduce a transformative capability called Conversation Mode, an opt-in feature on Echo Show 8 (2nd Gen) and Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) that allows you to have more natural, back-and-forth interactions with Alexa, without needing to repeat the wake word.
You can easily enable this feature by saying, “Alexa, turn on Conversation Mode” or “Alexa, join the conversation.” Once the mode is enabled, anyone in the room can speak with Alexa without saying the wake word, as long as they’re in view of the device’s camera and looking toward the screen.
Conversation Mode also allows for more free-flowing interactions. Just like we may talk over a friend or speak at the same time when considering what to order for dinner or what to do over the weekend, when Conversation Mode is enabled you can interact with Alexa at your own pace, even when multiple people are interacting with Alexa. Alexa will respond when addressed and pause if interrupted.
How Conversation Mode works
Natural interaction with another person might be commonplace for us, but it can be hard for AI. Our scientists and engineers had to devise various ways for Alexa to understand when people were speaking to the device and not to each other, and to determine when and how to respond. When Conversation Mode is enabled, Alexa is able to use visual and acoustic cues to know when to respond to requests. You can find more information on the science behind Conversation Mode by visiting Amazon Science.
We designed Conversation Mode with your privacy in mind. You must ask Alexa to turn on Conversation Mode each time you want to enable it, and you can ask Alexa to turn it off at any time by saying, “Alexa, turn off Conversation Mode” or “Leave the conversation,” or by pressing the mic/camera off button or closing the camera shutter. Additionally, Conversation Mode will automatically end if your device doesn’t detect a request within a short period of time. You can customize how long it stays on after your last request using the Conversation Mode setting on your device.
You’ll know Conversation Mode is on when there is a solid blue border around the Echo Show screen, and a light blue bar at the bottom of the screen lets you know when your requests are being sent to the cloud.
Only the requests determined to be directed to Alexa will be recorded and sent to the cloud, and no images or video are sent to the cloud. You can review and delete your voice recordings at any time in the Alexa app, by visiting Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History, or at Alexa Privacy Settings. More information is available on the Alexa Privacy Hub.
We look forward to receiving customer feedback, as customers use Conversation Mode to interact with Alexa.