It might be common for your kids, spouse, and coworkers to reject 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 will force the service to wait longer for a person to finish speaking before stopping listening.
As reported by Forbes, the feature is optional. It can certainly come in handy for people who speak slowly or simply 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 for Alexa to respond 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 appealing to millions of people. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, more than 3 million Americans stutter and nearly 7% of Americans have some kind of language disorder.
Another type of communication
This week, Amazon also updated the Alexa app on Android to allow users to type requests instead of speaking them, The Verge reported. The feature is in public preview in the US. Sure, the ability to type commands to Alexa could be crucial for those with speech difficulties, but the update also provides a personal way to interact with Alexa when there are others in the room.
Alexa’s iOS users got the feature in December, and rivals like Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant have been accepting typed requests for years.