Now You Can Pepper Alexa with Questions Thanks to Follow-Up Mode

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If you’re a power Alexa-user, then you’ve likely asked her several questions over and over again within a very short period of time.  Am I wrong?  The disadvantage?  You have to say “Alexa” every time you want to ask a question, in order to keep waking up the digital assistant.  But now, Amazon has a new feature called “Follow-Up Mode”, which is designed to make it easier to pepper Alexa with a ton of questions one after the other.  This is kind of an obvious thing, isn’t it?  I mean, I’m happy to see Amazon updating this now, but it’s kind of a basic idea if you think about it.

With Follow-Up Mode, Alexa will listen for 5 seconds after she has responded to see if you’ve got something else to ask. The blue ring on your Alexa device will light up during these 5 seconds to indicate that she is listening.  If you have anything else to ask her – this is the time!  You also don’t have to keep saying her name over and over again.  If you don’t say anything, she will go back to sleep automatically without saying anything else.  To clarify – this doesn’t mean that Alexa can handle multiple commands all at once.  For example – you can’t ask Alexa to turn on the lights and start playing your Spotify playlist.

amazon echo

But that’s ok, isn’t it?  I mean, I can’t even handle more than one set of instructions on a good day.  Sure, Alexa is a voice assistant, so if anyone can do this, it should be her.  I agree, but can we expect any more than this?  On one hand, I’m going to say no, but on the other – it’s 2018, and I think the technology for that is coming our way soon.  If it’s not already in the works.  Getting back to this update.  If you want to get Alexa to do two things, this is what you do:

You – “Alexa, turn on the lights”
Alexa – “Ok” [Alexa listening]
You – “Set the thermostat to 72”
Alexa – “Ok, the heat is set to 72”

What is really interesting about this is that Alexa will only respond to follow-ups if she is “confident” that it’s a legitimate request and not just background noise.  I find this interesting because she already responds to a lot of background noise.  Well, maybe not background noise, but not commands directed at her.  For example, I was watching a show where the lead character was named Alexis, and Alexa thought I was talking to her.  I’m not saying that this is going to change, but if you start talking to your spouse after you ask Alexa to turn the lights on, she is hopefully not going to respond.

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Amazon indicates that you can end the conversation with Alexa by saying something like “thank you” or “stop. To enable Follow-Up Mode on your Alexa device, open the Alexa app and head to the settings. Select the device in question, then scroll down and toggle the Follow-Up Mode slider into the on position (it’s off by default).