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Alexa Is Receiving Much-needed Smart Home Upgrades

Today, Amazon announced a slew of new hardware announcements, as well as a slew of new Alexa capabilities, including a handful of new smart home features. The company hasn’t specified a specific release date for the updates, but it hopes to do so “in the coming months,” according to the press release.

It may appear to be a minor change, but one of the more significant enhancements is the ability to quickly and easily schedule smart home device actions for future times. Although it was previously possible to schedule actions through the Alexa app, the process is now much simpler, thanks to voice commands such as “Alexa, turn off the lights in 10 minutes” or “Alexa, turn on the fan at 6 pm.”

Multiple security camera feeds can now be displayed on smart displays

Support for wireless remote switches is another minor but potentially useful feature. These can be programmed to activate Routines, allowing Alexa to turn off all your lights or read a news summary with the press of a button. There are also new routine actions, such as the ability to turn lights on and off or reduce their brightness by 25%. In terms of Routines, Amazon says Alexa will soon be able to personalize them to different people in your home via their Alexa Profiles, such as reading out different calendar entries depending on who says good morning to Alexa.

Alexa previously supported smart home cameras, allowing you to view video feeds via Echo Show smart displays, but now Alexa allows you to view multiple feeds at once. Most displays will be able to display up to four feeds simultaneously (apart from the Echo Show 5, which will be able to view just two). Amazon’s smart displays will also get a new “Video Sticky Notes” feature, which allows you to record and then pin short videos that other members of your household can view. Consider it a high-tech version of a pinned-to-the-fridge note.

Alexa’s hunches feature, which can control smart home devices without your explicit request, will soon be able to notify you if it detects that no one is home and your front door’s smart lock is left unlocked. With a voice command, the door can then be locked. There’s also a new Alexa feature that will notify you if an upcoming outdoor event looks like it might be canceled due to rain up to 10 days in advance. Finally, Amazon’s Alexa Together service is being improved to provide more detailed notifications to remote caregivers. Alerts about motion detected by smart sensors can now be room-specific, and notifications about lights turned on at unusual hours will be available.

These add up to a significant number of quality-of-life enhancements for anyone who relies on Alexa to manage and control their smart home ecosystem.

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