Voice assistants are becoming more and more ubiquitous, but the popular Amazon Alexa assistant has a wordiness problem. Frequently, she’ll repeat questions back at you or be unnecessarily detailed with her responses. Today, it seems that Amazon is making an attempt to deal with that behaviour.
There appears to be a “brief mode” being tested on Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo. Simple beeps are replacing many of the more lengthy responses. Multiple users on Reddit have noticed this feature is available on their devices, with one in particular noting:
I just asked Alexa to turn on my lights, she said “OK” just like normal, but after that, she said this would be the last time she would, and that I would hear a beep tone instead on a successful command.
It’s slightly unclear if this mode is being tested or was accidentally rolled out, as the feature has been reported to be available then disappear. Reinforcement that it may not be a mistake comes via the Alexa app, which has a new setting to toggle Brief Mode on or off. The Brief Mode option has some explanation provided with it:
In this mode, Alexa speaks less, and for some simple messages plays a short sound instead of a voice response.
This change is logical and should make accomplishing tasks with Alexa more enjoyable and efficient. Not everything needs verbal confirmation and a mode like this might be useful at night or early in the morning to minimize disturbances to family members. It also provides evidence of Amazon's desire to continuously improve their voice assistant technology as this comes hot on the heels of the ability to string commands together.
If the feature ends up being more broadly deployed, time will tell if it proves popular and potentially open the door to greater flexibility. Perhaps Alexa will be able to be generally silent, offering confirmation through beeps only or even different coloured light rings.