Voice apps from Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa are now able to proactively share notifications in the form of an audio alert or blinking LED atop a device. Notifications related to shopping in the Amazon marketplace will also be made available.
Notifications will initially only be available for a few Alexa skills from Washington Post (owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos), AccuWeather, and Life360.
“Notifications for Alexa Skill Kit (ASK) will be available to all skill builders soon in a public beta,” Ted Karczewski, content marketing manager with the Alexa Voice Service team, wrote in a blog post today.
Once the feature is more broadly available, owners of Echos and other devices enabled with the Alexa Voice Service can say “Alexa, what did I miss?” or “Alexa, what are my notifications?” for a complete update from skills, shopping items, or news flash briefings they have asked to deliver notifications.
The Alexa Skills Store now has more than 25,000 skills for things like breaking news, games, food orders, or weather updates.
The audio notification will only sound once for each notification, while the LED indicator will stop once a user goes through all new notifications, according to a notifications for Alexa Voice Service page created for developers. Users will be able to enable notifications in the iOS or Android Alexa app. The app can also be used to temporarily disable those notifications with the Do Not Disturb option.
The news comes a day after Amazon debuted six new devices in one of the biggest days for the AI assistant since the first Echo arrived in fall 2014, reinvigorating interest in voice computing and digital assistants.
Though the change may seem small, Alexa appears to have accomplished another first by introducing proactive notifications through a smart speaker.
Notifications arrive today as a result of an update to the Alexa Voice Service API. An update to the Smart Home Skills API yesterday introduces Routines, which combine multiple smart home or skill actions into a single voice utterance. The new Gadgets API also arrived yesterday and will team with accessories like Echo Buttons to give users more ways to play games with Alexa-enabled devices.