Amazon's Alexa voice assistant has been able to guess at what your intentions are for several years now, since the launch of its so-called 'hunches' function back in 2018.
But, while Alexa could decide what it is you might want, such as switching off a light or lowering the thermostat based on your habitual activity, the assistant would ask for permission before acting.
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Now though, Amazon is confident enough in Alexa's abilities that the voice assistant can be set to act on these hunches automatically, without seeking permission first.
Hunches are created by Alexa's artificial intelligence and based on how you habitually interact with the assistant to control your smart home. If you switch the same smart light off at roughly the same time each evening before going to bed, Alexa will quietly pick up on this.
With hunches enabled, Alexa will ask if you would like the lights switching off at that certain time. But with the new automated system switched on, the assistant will flick the switch for you without asking for permission. Sticking with this example, Alexa also knows if you tend to leave a certain light on all night, like one by the front door, and will eventually do so without asking.
The Alexa app can be used to give the assistant permission to act on certain hunches on your behalf. Other examples include how Alexa could activate your robotic vacuum cleaner when you go out, or at the time you normally ask it to be switched on. Similarly, Alexa can take control of your smart thermostat, making the same adjustments as you normally do, on your behalf.
Amazon says: "Instead of turning down the heat or starting the robot vacuum before you leave for work, you can just walk out the door and Alexa can take care of the rest," adding that the system works "whether you have a single smart bulb or a fully connected home."
Previously, if Alexa had a hunch about something it would deliver a message from your Echo speaker along the lines of: "I think you left the kitchen lights on, would you like me to turn them off?"
How to enable Alexa automated hunches
To get started with Alexa's new automated hunches, follow these instructions:
- Open the Alexa smartphone app
- Tap on More in the lower-right corner, then tap Settings
- Scroll down and tap on Hunches
- Select 'Set up automatic hunches'
From there, you can pick which hunches you want Alexa to act upon automatically, and which you would rather the assistant asks about first.
The hunches system is only available in the U.S. for now, with a wider roll-out likely coming at a later date.