The Amazon Echo smart speaker is undoubtedly one of the most popular and innovative tech releases in recent years but the development of voice search has caused some parents to worry about how their children interact with other people – and Alexa.
Alexa is a voice-activated assistant who answers questions from users with information sourced from across the Internet. In order to operate this incredibly smart speaker, users start their query with “Alexa…” which wakes the assistant, ready to respond to your question.
The system frequently updates itself to stay on top of changing queries and to constantly provide new and accurate information, but the latest update is one that is being welcomed whole-heartedly by parents. The smart assistant can now be made to encourage children to use manners when searching, going some way to allaying fears that their children will become rude when speaking to real people.
What does the latest Amazon Echo update mean for me – and my children?
Alexa will now encourage users to say “please” and “thank you” when issuing voice commands and parents have the ability to put time limits and blocks in place to prevent their children from hearing potentially harmful responses.
Now if children ask “Alexa, what time is it please”, the new feature that has been aptly branded Magic Word will respond with “Thanks for asking so nicely,” before giving the response. Similarly, if the child responds with “thank you”, then Alexa will give one of a number of responses such as “no problem” or “you’re welcome.”
This new feature is part of a package released specifically for the Amazon Echo, some of which require a subscription. The free package includes offerings such as lyric blocking in songs with expletives and a “bedtime hours” setting in which Alexa won’t respond to any commands.
The paid package includes wake-up alarms from their favourite Disney or television characters plus child-friendly audio books and software from brands including National Geographic that will help kids with their homework.
There is even an innovative and highly commendable update to Alexa’s voice recognition software and it will soon respond to those who cannot pronounce the letter ‘L.’
What makes the Amazon Echo smart speaker so popular anyway?
If you don’t own an Amazon Echo smart speaker it might be difficult to understand why you’d want one, but once you’ve used Alexa for various queries, controlled your smart home devices and played your music through it you soon see first-hand what all the fuss is about.
Developed as a music player that is connected to the Internet, the Amazon Echo is compatible with a whole host of smart home systems and devices such as smart light bulbs, security cameras, thermostats and much more making it a smart home ‘hub’ of its own.