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The smartest new Echo feature in years is here

Have you tried using a smart speaker when kids are running through the house? Need some information, but someone is using a vacuum cleaner? It will be next to impossible to hear Alexa the first time around if she understands you at all. Tap or click here to get Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant to understand you better.

You could always turn up the volume, but that will be rather jarring late if you forgot that you made the change. It could also wake up everybody else in the house, and you’ll be left awkwardly listening to her answer while everyone stares at you.

If you’ve ever had any of these problems, there is finally a solution. Amazon is adding an Alexa feature to help you hear her better when things are a little noisy in your house. Keep reading to find out how to enable it.

Here’s the backstory

The scenarios above are real problems for people who rely on their smart speakers or virtual assistant to get them through the day. It isn’t always practical to increase Alexa’s volume, so Amazon came up with another solution.

The smart speakers will keep an ear out for any above-normal noise or loud sounds when you enable Adaptive Volume. When asked a question or issued a command, Alexa will increase her reply volume to compensate for the additional background interference.

The Adaptive Volume feature is currently only available in the U.S. and is rather simple to enable. If it’s something that you want to use, you only have to say, “Alexa, turn on the adaptive volume.” If you want to increase the volume permanently, ask her to do so.

Note: Adaptive Volume doesn’t appear to be supported by all Echo devices. We tested it on a first-generation Echo, and Alexa responded that “this device does not support Adaptive Volume.”

Alexa listening for other sounds

This is not the first time that Alexa has been given greater powers. Earlier this year, Amazon enabled the virtual assistant to listen for the sounds of a baby crying, a dog barking, smoke and fire alarms, breaking glass or even someone coughing or snoring.

It’s done through what Amazon calls Sound Detection mode, and you can set up what should happen when the sounds are detected. For example, if breaking glass is heard, Alexa could send a text message to household members and attempt to reach local authorities.

To set up Sound Detection mode:

  • Open the Alexa app and tap the More menu.
  • Select Routines.
  • Tap on the plus sign near the top of the screen.
  • Tap the plus sign next to Enter routine name to create a name. Let’s use baby crying as an example.
  • Tap the plus next to When this happens, tap Sound Detection, then Baby Crying.
  • Select which Alexa-enabled device should listen. Select Next.
  • To select what happens, tap Add action, then tap Messaging, then Notification.
  • Enter what message should be sent when the sound is triggered. The message will be sent to your phone when Alexa hears this sound.

Keep reading

Have a new Echo? 20 Alexa tips and tricks to try out

How to get Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant to understand you better

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