Amazon Introduces Alexa Follow-Up Mode to Streamline User Interactions
Amazon’s most recent Alexa app update introduced a new option for “Follow-Up Mode.” This addresses the cumbersome requirement that you must continually say, “Alexa,” to activate the assistant and request information. Most queries or commands are likely single actions where the existing model is not often an issue. However, if you want to ask several queries in a row, the process is slow and can get annoying. Let’s say you want to ask about the weather, the time of your first calendar appointment and estimated travel time to the office. You need to say, Alexa before each query. This doesn’t seem much like a conversation with a personal assistant which is what Amazon would like to move closer to delivering for users. When you speak to a person, you don’t start each question with her name.
Amazon is eliminating this requirement for consecutive wake-ups by keeping the microphone open for five seconds after Alexa delivers a response. The blue light remains lit and microphones ready for another query. If you don’t ask another question, the session deactivates after the five second waiting period. Alexa still does not enable compound queries, which is several queries or commands in a single interaction, but Follow-on Mode is a much closer approximation to that experience for users. It is important to note that Follow-Up Mode is optional. A user must activate the feature in the Alexa app. Below is a video example of Follow-Up Mode in action.
Alexa Follow-Up Mode is Faster
There is a speed element as well. When you say “Alexa,” there is a delay before the wake word is confirmed and the system starts processing the query. With Follow-Up Mode, Alexa stays awake and ready for a query much like after she asks a question and awaits a user reply. So, you not only save the time of saying the three syllable term, Alexa, but also save the wake-up confirmation time. It makes the interaction noticeably faster when you want to execute multiple interactions.
Activating Alexa Follow-Up Mode
Although Amazon has not publicized this yet to users, you can activate Alexa Follow-Up Mode through the Alexa app. You do this in the Settings menu by selecting the Alexa-enabled device you would like to use with Follow-Up Mode. When you select the device, scroll down to the section for Follow-Up Mode and turn it on. This feature is device-specific so you need to go into each device to activate it. That also enables users to make the choice about which devices are best suited to Follow-Up Mode where the microphone stays active for a few seconds after interactions have concluded.