Amazon’s Alexa is getting the ability to automate more tasks today and in the coming weeks as its Routines feature grows new capabilities. Routines allow you to schedule actions, carry out multiple tasks with a single utterance, or create custom voice commands.
Starting today, you can create Routines in the Alexa app timed to start after an alarm goes off, so you could for example schedule an Echo speaker to play the latest news, get a weather forecast, and read events on your calendar 10 minutes after your morning alarm.
In the weeks ahead, Routines can be tied to sunrise or sunset, and can trigger email updates to share notifications from Gmail or Outlook.
That means you can soon say “Alexa, good evening,” and turn on the lights, start your favorite playlist, hear the latest news, and launch an Alexa voice app. Amazon now has about 90,000 Alexa skills.
Cloud Cam or Logitech smart home camera users will also be able to trigger routines based on when a person crosses its field of vision. This resembles the ability to connect a routine with contact and motion sensors introduced in August 2018.
Alexa Routines were first introduced in fall 2017. Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby and Apple’s Siri have since introduced similar features, likely because voice apps and interaction with AI assistants are most often adopted when part of a person’s daily habits.
Other recent upgrades for the AI assistant include hands-free Alexa on Windows 10 PCs, HIPAA-eligible health care skills, and an improved ability to recognize how to translate vague human words into action.