Alexa Can Drop In on All Your Echo Smart Speakers at Once
Amazon Alexa device owners can now use the Drop In feature to turn all of their Echo smart speakers and smart displays into a unified conversation across multiple rooms. The expanded Drop In is part of a range of updates to Alexa announced by the company this month.
Until now, Drop In had been limited to a two-way conversation. A user could ask Alexa on an Echo in the bedroom to ‘drop in’ on an Echo in the kitchen and converse with someone there. Now, if a user says, “Alexa, drop in on all devices,” every Echo in the connected network will connect, creating a kind of conference call. Amazon added similar improvements to the reminders feature. Users previously could ask Alexa to remind them of something, but the voice assistant would only speak up to remind them from the same device. Alexa device owners can now change their setting so that every Alexa device reminds them, a useful addition if you aren’t in the same room as before. Amazon cited the reminder update as one it received many requests to add from users.
Australia and Quarantine
Amazon had a busy month pushing out new and expanded elements of Alexa over the last month. Australia, in particular, saw some notable aspects arrive on its shores. Developers for the voice assistant in Australia, as well as New Zealand, became eligible for the Alexa Developer Rewards program, which means they can earn money and other benefits based on how successful their Alexa skills are. Bringing the Alexa Developer Rewards program to Australia and New Zealand makes sense for Amazon if it wants to score a more significant share of the voice assistant market there. As Google has consistently beaten Amazon’s smart speaker and smart display market share, a program to encourage more and better voice apps for Alexa makes a lot of sense. Australians can also now integrate Alexa into their cars as Amazon started selling the Echo Auto in the country.
As for the trends in the questions that people ask the voice assistant, the shadow of the quarantines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is very visible. More questions about cooking were asked of Alexa over the course of a week in April than all of Thanksgiving week this past November, usually the peak of cooking questions. People are losing track of time in new ways too.
“The number of times customers have asked, “what time is it?” recently is down,” Amazon wrote in a blog announcing the updates. ““Alexa, what day is it?” is up.”