Amazon announced that Alexa will soon be able to read out notifications from devices powered by the digital assistant, including the Amazon Echo smart speaker.
The move will set Alexa apart from rivals Google Assistant and Apple's Siri, but it is so far unclear if users will view the notifications as a useful feature or an annoying one.
Amazon To Soon Roll Out Alexa Notifications
The Alexa Notifications feature, announced through an Amazon Developer blog post, is Amazon's response to customers who have requested for the digital assistant to be more proactive in giving them information.
Once the feature is rolled out, users will be able to activate notifications for each Alexa skill through the Amazon Alexa app. They will know when there is new information through a chime and a pulsing green light on the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, or Amazon Echo Show.
Users will be able to ask for their Amazon Echo to speak out the notifications by asking "Alexa, what are my notifications?" or "Alexa, what did I miss?" Users who would like to disable notifications for skills can do so through a voice command or the Amazon Alexa app. Devices placed in Do Not Disturb mode will also temporarily suppress notifications.
Among the companies that will be the first to update their Alexa skills to take advantage of the notifications feature are AccuWeather, Just Eat, The Washington Post, and Life360. Users will be able to receive information such breaking headlines from The Washington Post and weather details from AccuWeather through their Amazon Echo.
Alexa Widens Gap Over Google Assistant, Siri
The pending addition of a notifications feature will widen the gap between Alexa and rivals Google Assistant and Apple's Siri.
Developers will need to rework the Alexa skills that they created using the new Alexa Voice Service and Alexa Skills Kit that Amazon announced alongside Alexa Notifications. This means that the kind of notifications that users can receive are only limited by what the developers can create.
Users may soon be able to ask Alexa to read their Facebook and Twitter notifications, let them know the final score of basketball games, or alert them if a desired listing appears on Amazon. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Will Alexa Notifications Be Useful Or Annoying?
While the usefulness of Alexa Notifications is apparent, there is also the possibility that the new feature could prove to be an annoying one if developers would abuse it.
One example of an annoying application of Alexa Notifications is a news app that is set to alert users for important news. Developers, however, may set up the app to also release notifications even for less important stories, forcing users to either accept these less important notifications or to disable them altogether.
Amazon has not stated if there are certain limits to the notifications that Alexa skills can send through the feature. Alexa Notifications will arrive in the coming months, and hopefully Amazon can clarify the matter so that Amazon Echo owners will not have to worry about receiving a barrage of notifications whenever they ask Alexa what they missed.