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Amazon Echo owners can now say 'Alexa' less often with smart speaker's latest update

Follow-Up Mode makes Alexa listen for a second question after delivering her answer

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If you are a regular user of Amazon Alexa then you'll know how annoying it can be to say the "Alexa" hot word before every question or command — especially when you want to ask several things one after another.

Thankfully, Amazon has introduced a new feature called Follow-Up Mode, which makes Alexa listen for a couple of seconds after she has finished speaking. If you want to ask a follow-up question or issue a second command, the assistant will hear you without you having to call out her name a second time.

Only available in U.S. English and on Amazon Echo devices for now, Follow-Up Mode can be switched on via the Alexa smartphone app. Just head to the Settings page of the app, select the device you want to configure, find Follow-Up Mode and tap the toggle to switch it on.

Alexa's blue light indicates when she is listening for a second questionAmazon

To indicate that Alexa is listening after completing her utterance, the blue light will be displayed for a few seconds. If you say nothing, it will soon go off to show she's stopped listening.

Alexa will not listen for a follow-up question if the Echo device is playing music or audiobooks, or if you are on a call through the Echo. As usual, saying "stop", "cancel" or "go to sleep" will stop Alexa from listening.

Finally, Amazon says its AI assistant will not listen if "Alexa is not confident you're speaking to her. For example, if she detects that speech was background noise or that the intent of the speech was not clear." However, as we have found with our own Echo Dot speakers and our Sonos One, Alexa has an annoying habit of doing the opposite — listening even when you didn't speak her name. Hopefully reducing these false negatives is high on Amazon's to-do list.

(Check out The GearBrain to see what other connected devices work with Amazon Alexa enabled device.)

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