Amazon Alexa Starts Proactively Making Decisions for You

(Photo by Jan Antonin Kolar via Unsplash)

Amazon’s Alexa knows that actions speak louder than words, which is why it can automatically complete tasks without you having to ask.

Hunches rolled out last year, reminding users to lock the front door or turn off the basement light if Alexa senses you forgot. A recent update, however, lets customers choose to have the virtual assistant proactively control compatible devices, instinctively starting the robot vacuum or adjusting the thermostat when it deems necessary.

“Customers can choose to have Alexa proactively act on Hunches without needing to ask,” according to an official YouTube video caption. “That means customers have fewer things to think about at home, so they can spend their time on more meaningful things.”

To learn more, simply say, “Alexa, what are Hunches?” The feature is enabled by default, but can be disabled via the Alexa app via More > Settings > Hunches. It’s currently limited to smart locks, lights, plugs, and thermostats. However, a company spokesperson told Gizmodo that users “may start to receive Hunches from Alexa based on how you typically use [other] connected devices.”

Amazon in November introduced a skill that lets Alexa infer customers’ “latent goals”—requests you didn’t even know you wanted to make. Ask how long it takes to steep tea, for instance, and the latest goal could be setting a timer for steeping a cup of tea. Alexa might suggest “Five minutes is a good place to start,” then follow up by asking if you want to set a five-minute timer.

The function—currently available in English in the US—improves with use; regularly ask about the daily weather forecast, and Alexa could one day automatically offer advice about an umbrella or sunscreen.

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