Those of us with Echo devices are used to saying “Alexa” every time we want to speak with Amazon’s voice assistant, but now there’s a way for you and anyone nearby to chat. with Alexa without repeating her name repeatedly.
The trick: Alexa’s new talk mode, which was first announced a year ago and has just rolled out to the third-gen Echo Show 10. All you have to do is say, “Alexa, join the conversation,” and Alexa will start responding. to commands and requests from you or anyone in their line of sight, all without having to say the wake word.
Of course, there’s already an Alexa feature that lets you talk to her without the wake word: Follow Mode, which lets you ask follow-up questions after an initial request without having to repeat “Alexa.” But while follow mode is handy for brief discussions about the weather (“And what weather is it tomorrow?”), Conversation mode allows for “smooth interaction” with multiple participants, according to Amazon.
Here’s how it works: If you’re (for example) in the kitchen with the Echo Show 10 and want to have a natural conversation with Alexa, you can say “Alexa, join the conversation”. Whenever Conversation Mode is active, you’ll see a blue glow around the screen, while a light blue bar at the bottom of the screen lets you know when a question is saved and sent to the cloud.
So how will Alexa know you’re talking to her and not someone else? According to Amazon, Alexa will “use visual and acoustic cues” to know when someone is speaking to it, the most basic of which is whether anyone in the room is looking at the screen (remember, the new Echo Show 10 has a rotating screen) when they ask a question. If you or someone else interrupts Alexa, she’ll politely pause, and hopefully she won’t meddle in those annoying “passing” digressions.
Read our third-gen Amazon Echo Show 10 review
Once you’ve had enough of Alexa, you can say “Leave Conversation” to send her back. Amazon also promises Talk Mode will turn off automatically if you don’t speak with Alexa for a “short” time.
Amazon says Conversation Mode will start rolling out to the third-gen Echo Show 10 in the “coming weeks.” It’s unclear when or if Talk Mode will come to other Echo devices.