Amazon Alexa voice assistant now comes with a unique skill dubbed as “Away Mode” that would help scare burglars away by playing audio recordings of lengthy conversations. This way the miscreants would be confused about whether someone is at home or not. Apart from the idea of Alexa scaring away burglars, one interesting thing about these pre-recorded conversations is that these are ridiculous and entertaining as well.
Funny conversations to keep burglars away
Amazon Alexa Away Mode has a total of seven tracks recorded with real people and written by a group of comedy writers from Saturday Night Live, UCB and Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
“Away Mode is the first ever home protection skill that harnesses the power of human awkwardness to ward off unwanted visitors. It’s like that scene from Home Alone, except instead of cardboard cutouts,….” reads the description of Away Mode.
The conversations include “Mom Walks Daughter Through Assembling A Malm Dresser Over The Phone,” “A Stay At Home Mom Who Just Can’t Deal Anymore,” “Book Club Meeting Where Everything But The Book Is Discussed,” “Couple Has Breakup While Trying To Watch TV,” “Passionate Argument Over Rules Of Complicated Board Game,” “Two Average Guys Brainstorm What’s Unique About Themselves So They Can Start A Podcast About It,” and “Emergency PTA Meeting To Discuss Memes, Fidget Spinners, And Other Teen Fads.”
All seven tracks are about an hour long, meaning the Away Mode is more suitable for those who need to go out for about an hour or so, and not for extended vacations. Nevertheless, the effort from Amazon is worth the applause, but it is not enough to take on a dedicated security system.
New features to keep Alexa in the lead
With Amazon Alexa Away Mode, the company continues with its efforts to make the Amazon Alexa voice assistant a one-stop shop for all your needs. Recently, a new feature, Alexa Cast, was introduced to allow users to control anything that is playing with their Alexa configured smartphone devices. Amazon’s new feature supports the Echo speakers, third-party Alexa products and a few of Amazon’s Fire devices.
As of now, the feature is compatible only with the Amazon Music app, but going forward, it could give a tough time to Google Cast if Amazon decides to render Alexa the skills of controlling playback of music, movies, podcasts and more from any app that supports Amazon’s network of devices.
With the update, the Amazon Music app on the iOS and Android will now include an icon for Alexa Cast on the Now Playing screen. The user would be able to see the list of Alexa-enabled devices and select the one to start playing music. Since the app would keep track of what is playing on the speaker, the user would be able to control the music remotely or switch to playback on the phone when leaving home.
Amazon is also adding new features to one of the most popular smart speakers around the world – Amazon Echo. After receiving updates late last year along with a fresh look and low price, the Echo is all set to welcome new features. The new set of tweaks would be aimed toward improving the audio quality and overall performance.
Amazon is bringing in the new equalizer feature to boost the audio performance of the Echo. With the help of the new feature, the users would be able to customize the output performance of the speaker. Various features such as bass, treble and midrange can be controlled individually within a range of six decibels. A user would also be able to change the settings using the Alexa app for smartphones and tablets or by simply commanding, Alexa, “increase bass” or “Alexa, decrease treble.”
“Today we are excited to announce equaliser (EQ) and sound mode controls for smart home entertainment devices, available today for customers in the US across the Amazon Echo family of devices, and on select Alexa-enabled devices built using the Alexa Voice Service (AVS),” said Amazon developer, Mike Mass, in a blog post earlier.
Amazon Alexa voice assistant – promoting it smartly as well
Apart from adding new features, the company is also promoting its products smartly, and this, in turn, is pushing the sales up. Such efforts from the company have made Alexa a household name with AI enabled devices such as Fire TV Stick and Echo devices becoming best sellers, giving the online giant a big lead in the growing smart speaker market.
For instance, Amazon was the biggest sponsor of the three-day inaugural Voice Summit at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Amazon’s arch-rivals Microsoft and Google were also present at the event along with other big names such as Panasonic, Capital One, Johnson & Johnson and Lego.
After the event was over, attendees were able to hang out with Amazon Alexa voice assistant staff, learn code and ask questions. Further, Amazon executives at the event also talked about the direction of voice and Alexa initiatives in retail, education, finance, healthcare and so on.