Amazon continues to be giving Alexa slightly endurance


Enlarge / Take your time. Occasionally, your kids, partner, and co-workers may hide you, but shouldn’t your virtual assistant be any different? Amazon Alexa will now be a little more patient with users thanks to a Tuesday update that made the service wait longer for a person to finish the spoken commands before stopping listening.

As reported by Forbes, the feature is optional. It could certainly be useful for those who speak slowly or just need more time to process their thoughts. But it’s really meant to be an accessibility feature that makes it easier for people with speech impairments to use Amazon’s virtual assistant. Amazon added the new behavior after some customers told the company that “they just need a little more time before Alexa responds to their requests,” Shehzad Mevawalla, head of Alexa speech recognition at Amazon, told Forbes.

Giving people more time to talk to Alexa could make the product more attractive to millions. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that more than 3 million Americans stutter and nearly 7% of Americans have speech impairment, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Another way of communication

This week, Amazon also updated the Alexa app on Android to allow users to enter requests instead of speaking them, The Verge reported. The feature is in public preview in the US. Of course, the ability to give commands to Alexa could be crucial for those with language difficulties, but the update also provides a private way to communicate with Alexa when others are in the room.

Alexa’s iOS users got the feature back in December, and competitors like Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant have been accepting typed requests for years.