Right on cue, Amazon announces more new features prior to Apple’s WWDC next week. The new Alexa reminder and timer features are available now in the U.S. and will be rolled out in the future to UK and German users. Earlier this week Amazon also released Apple calendar support for Alexa users.
Reminders Makes the Alexa More Helpful
The reminders feature seems like a small improvement but it adds a lot of utility. Siri has this feature today and now Alexa does too. When you set a reminder the user flow is very simple.
Alexa, set a reminder.”
What’s the reminder for?”
Pick up cake.”
When should I remind you?”
Tomorrow at eight.”
Is that eight A.M or P.M.?”
Okay. I’ll remind you tomorrow at eight A.M.
You can also put everything together and say.
Alexa, set a reminder to pick up cake tomorrow at eight A.M”
Okay, I’ll remind you tomorrow at eight A.M.
When the appointed time comes, the Echo light ring shines and a short audible tone is played. Alexa then tells you that she is reminding you to “pick up cake” or whatever the reminder is for. You can dismiss the reminder, by saying “stop,” “dismiss” or “cancel.”
You Can Now Name Your Timers
Our Alexa devices are most often used for playing music followed closely by setting timers. Sometimes we have several operating simultaneously. When you are cooking and you have three timers set for 15, 8 and 7 minutes it can sometimes be hard to remember which one is finished. Now you can name your timers so it is easy to tell them apart. Alexa will tell you which timer is done when the audible tone plays and can also tell you how much time is left on timers by name.
Again this is a small improvement, but very helpful. It is also something that Siri can’t handle today. With Siri I can have one, and only one, timer at a time. When you can only have one timer, naming doesn’t matter.
Reminders Are Similar to Personal Notifications
Amazon announced shortly before Google’s annual developer conference that notification functionality will be coming to skills. That made sense given the calling and messaging features clearly have notifications built in. The reminders and named timers are simply an extension of that functionality for personal notifications.
Siri has traditionally been good for little transactional tasks like reminders and working with your calendar. Amazon just stepped up and added both features so Apple users won’t sacrifice anything when ditching Siri for Alexa.