Alexa Offers Mayo Clinic Nutrition Advice, Expands Free Food Network Kitchen to Echo Show
Amazon is adding to the nutritional advice provided by Alexa, thanks to the Mayo Clinic’s database. The new nutrition tips feature is part of the latest round of updates to the voice assistant, including expanding access to a free year of the Food Network Kitchen to any Echo Show owner.
The nutrition tips feature is integrated into Alexa and offers up a wide range of suggestions related to healthy eating. The feature acts like a kind of random trivia for healthy eating. Asking Alexa to “give me a nutrition tip” three times in a row brought up a suggestion to drink unflavored coconut water over fruit juice, advised that herbs and spices are a healthy alternative to using salt, and offered the “fun fact” that tomatoes are vegetables and a big one in a salad is half the daily vegetable intake needed. The information in feature comes from the Mayo Clinic’s database, with the facts translated into statements for Alexa to speak. The Mayo Clinic has worked with Amazon to bring its medical knowledge to Alexa before. In April, the Mayo Clinic Answers on COVID-19 launched as an Alexa voice app designed to answer questions about the novel coronavirus and ongoing pandemic. It was one of the first pandemic-related Alexa skills voice apps published since Amazon deleted non-governmental voice apps related to the novel coronavirus. The Mayo Clinic already had a first aid skill available for Alexa back in 2017. The nutritional facts, however, are channeled directly from the database by Alexa.
For those looking to possibly apply some of those healthy eating tips, Amazon is offering Echo Show owners a free year’s subscription to the Food Network Kitchen Alexa skill, including the live and on-demand cooking classes. Amazon and the Food Network first offered the complimentary subscription to Amazon Fire TV and tablet owners at the beginning of May, but now Echo Show customers in the U.S. are also eligible. Echo Show smart displays were the original home of Food Network Kitchen when it premiered last year, but Fire TV and iOS and Android devices can access the 2,300 cooking classes, 80,000 recipes, and guides for making the meals. Presumably, the Food Network and Amazon want to entice those with Echo Show smart displays in their kitchen to follow their free year with a $5 a month or $40 a year subscription for the service. With the COVID-19 health crisis closing so many restaurants and getting many people to cook a lot more, now is a logical time to give a test drive of Food Network Kitchen.
Road Trip Routine
Virtual test drives are part of another extended Alexa feature. The voice assistant has ” hundreds of thousands of roads and highways around the world with regards to length, direction, location, opening date and more,” according to Amazon. Whether for idle interest or future route planning when travel is safer, Amazon clearly wants people to use Alexa as a guide for getting around by car, especially where they are unfamiliar with the roads.
Closer to home, Alexa has new options for connecting people. Last month, Amazon gave the voice assistant the ability to take an announcement made through one smart speaker and simultaneously play it from every smart speaker connected to the original. Now, announcements can also push notifications to any mobile phone connected to the Alexa account, appearing with a transcription of the message on the mobile Alexa app. Those who get the message can tell Alexa they want to reply and make their own announcement sent to all of the same devices. Alexa Routines, single commands that carry out multiple activities, was also updated to include Drop In Notifications. That means one command to the voice assistant could adjust lighting and temperature while automatically pulling up a list of devices where you have permission to connect and start a conversation through someone else’s smart speaker at the same time.