Living in the future with a voice assistant on call is great, except when she doesn’t understand your requests. Here are five simple things you can do to make sure you spend more time with Alexa and less yell at her for misunderstanding you.
When it comes to improving your Alexa experience, there’s one important thing to keep in mind: AI is currently in its infancy, and it helps you think of Alexa and similar voice assistants as literal babies. You have to train them, be patient, and even reward them when they get it right.
Train Alexa for your voice
CONNECTED:How to improve your Amazon Echo experience by teaching it your voice
Anyone can use Alexa without initial setup or voice training. As a result, you may not realize that you can to teach Alexa to understand her voice better. If you haven’t gone through voice training yet, you should definitely. It’s simple, it only takes a few minutes, and it fine-tunes Alexa to understand your particular voice.
We describe the process in detail, including how to conduct training under optimal conditions, in our guide to voice training with Alexa here. If you live in a house with several people, have each of them do voice training as well.
Tell Alexa where you are (and what you like)
RELATED:How to Set Up Weather, Traffic, and Sports Updates on Your Amazon Echo
In addition to customizing Alexa for your voice, it helps you dive into settings and tweak things like your location, your preferences for sports teams and weather, your news preferences, and other settings.
By doing so, you help reduce the chance that the response Alexa gives to one of your commands is wrong because you have set your preferences beforehand. That way, when Alexa is left to fill the gap—whether it’s your sports team or the route you’re driving—it’s already filled. You can read more about configuring these settings here.
Give your smart home devices clearer names
RELATED:How to control your SmartHome products with Amazon Echo
If you use Alexa to control smart devices in your home — like Philips Hue lights or Belkin WeMo outlets — we have some frustrating advice for you. When you name your smart home devices, you are probably naming them according to the naming convention that makes the most sense to the human brain, such as «Bedroom on the ceiling 1» and «Bedroom on the bedside table 2», all in the «Bedroom» group. To a human, these names are perfectly reasonable, but Alexa might have trouble distinguishing them.
This is usually due to the fact that the objects have too similar names — in this case, they all contain the word «bedroom» and «light». Instead of a bland user experience when you say something like «Turn on the light in the bedroom» you might end up turning on the wrong «sleeping» lamp that says «turn on», turning on the whole bedroom, or Alexa just asking what light you have in mind.
To avoid this problem, you just need to give your individual rooms and zones clear names such as «Bedroom», «Living Room» and «Upstairs» and then give the devices themselves clear names that don’t match any of the rooms. or zones. So instead of «Bedroom Ceiling Light 1» you can call it «Bedroom Ceiling Light 1». Instead of «Bedroom Nightstand Light 1», you can use «Mary’s Lamp» or «John’s Lamp» — really, anything that doesn’t include the word «Bedroom».
The end result is a much smoother experience that doesn’t leave Alex scrambling to figure out which «sleeper» device you’re talking about.
Be clear and specific
We’ll be the first to admit that we like to use the shortest commands when communicating with Alexa, because it doesn’t take much effort and because it’s fun to see Alexa expand its command parsing capabilities. But, in fact, the more concise you are about Alexa, the more likely it is that any team you throw at her will come back with an unsatisfactory result.
The more you talk, the more Alexa has to work. Whether you’re requesting news, a specific song (by a specific band), or interacting with your smarthome devices, you’re wrong for speaking more verbally — and therefore more specifically — for the best results.
Confirm when Alexa gets it right
Of all the things you can do to improve the Alexa experience, here’s what people probably do the least: let Alex know when she’s right. This will not only help you, but will help Echo users everywhere.
Every time you interact with Alexa, a companion «card» appears in the Alexa app on your mobile device, as well as in your Alexa web interface (located at http://alexa.amazon.com/ when you’re signed in). ). to your Amazon account).
On the card, you’ll find the answer Alexa gave you (whether it’s a direct response or a service she activated for you) and then a «Voice Feedback» section that details what Alexa heard from you. It also includes a Yes/No prompt so you can confirm that Alexa did or didn’t do what you wanted. Whether you click «Yes» or «No», you will be grateful for the feedback and will be able to fill out a more detailed answer.
While you don’t have to fill out a detailed answer (unless you feel a particular situation deserves it), just go to the control panel from time to time and confirm that Alexa understands (or doesn’t) you help improve the whole system.
Some of us have had issues with Alex misunderstanding us in the past and these five tips have made Alex a much more accurate and helpful personal assistant.