Major update to Amazon Echo's API will change the way you use Alexa

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Up till now Amazon’s Echo voice assistants were the perfect servant – they did not speak until they were spoken to first.

This is about to change, as Amazon is letting some developers test out the ability to send sound and light-based notifications to your Amazon Echo.

Amazon has just released Amazon Alexa Notifications to a select group of developers. Announced as part of the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) API, the feature is in private beta with companies such as AccuWeather who will provide weather updates, and The Washington Post who will provide users with breaking news alerts.

The feature will eventually also come in beta to all Alexa Skills Kit developers.

It is unlikely that your Echo will suddenly start blasting out the weather report, but it may make a tone sound, or light up part of the ring on your device.

The feature was first announced as on its way in May 2017, and then Amazon’s Ted Karcaewski explained how it would function, saying:

The Notifications feature allows Alexa to proactively indicate that there is new content from core features, such as Shopping updates, and Alexa skills for the user to retrieve. Specifically, this feature exposes new directives that instruct the device-side client to display visual indicators (an LED) and play audio when a notification is available.

The feature will make an Amazon Echo a lot less passive device, and we wonder if this will make it more or less popular. Either way, it will certainly be more difficult to ignore.

On Wednesday Amazon announced a very full range of new voice assistants, some of which are sure to find its way into many of our homes. Read more about those devices here.


More about the topics: amazon, Amazon Echo, notifications