New ‘Follow-Up’ Mode Allows Alexa To Complete Back-To-Back Requests With Using Wake Word Over And Over

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Heads up, Amazon Echo users: Alexa can now perform multiple commands in a series of voice prompts. You’ll still be limited to one request at a time, but this time without saying Alexa over and over.  ( Robyn Beck | AFP/Getty Images )

Amazon's Echo line of devices gets a new feature in the form of "follow-up" mode, which lets users spit out command after command without repeating the wake word each time. Alexa won't nest one request into another, but it will accommodate multiple requests back to back.

That means it's still not possible to perform two commands in the same sentence. So, users can't say something like, "Alexa, dim the lights and search for romantic comedies on Netflix." They still have to divide those into two, but now without needing to say "Alexa" each time.

How Follow-Up Mode On Alexa Works

The new feature works because Alexa now continues to listen five seconds after a command, indicated by the blue ring on the hardware staying lit. Once that fades, it means Alexa has returned to sleep mode and will only be accessed again via the wake word.

There are potential problems here, though. There's the fact that for it to determine a command is indeed a follow-up, Alexa must first be "confident" that the second command isn't just background noise from people chattering or a dialog from a TV program.

Amazon didn't provide a lot of details on how Alexa determines follow-up commands, but there's reason to believe this won't work 100 percent of the time initially. After all, until they received an update, Echo units were shown to be prone to following commands from the TV. Interestingly, Amazon says that users can now deliberately prevent Alexa from listening to commands by saying "stop" or "thank you."

How To turn On Follow-Up Mode On Alexa

To enable follow-up mode, open the Alexa app and locate the Settings menu. Select the appropriate device, scroll down until you see the Follow-Up mode slider and toggle it. It'll be toggled off by default, so users need to manually set it on to try follow-up commands.

As CNET reports, follow-up mode is merely an option, so users don't have to worry about being forced to use it. It works on all Echo devices and some other Alexa-enabled third-party gear as well. For now, follow-up is only offered in English and only works when Alexa isn't doing a continuous command, such as reading an audiobook or making a call.

On paper, follow-up mode sounds useful enough. But perhaps Amazon should focus on developing Alexa's smarts further so that it may one day be able to recognize multiple commands in the same sentence. Maybe the company is already heading in that direction. Your move, Google.

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