Amazon’s Alexa voice service already lets you get answers to questions, listen to music, news updates, or weather forecasts, play games, or control smart home gadgets with your voice.
But in addition to launching a bunch of new hardware today, Amazon unveiled some upcoming Alexa features that could make the company’s voice assistant technology even more useful.
One feature lets you use certain Echo products to control your smart home accessories even if you lose your internet connection. Another lets you use select Amazon Echo products as part of your home security system.
For example, you can tell Alexa you’re leaving the house to enable the Guard feature, which will send you alerts if it hears the sound of glass breaking or the sound made by a smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarm.
Guard can also turn your lights on and off when you’re out of the house to make it look like someone’s home. And the feature will support integration with Ring and ADT security systems.
Amazon says Alexa Guard will be “available on select Echo devices later this year.”
Amazon says that you’ll be able to use an Echo Show device for 2-way communication with a Ring or August doorbell camera. The feature should roll out in a few weeks, letting you talk to someone at the door before deciding whether to let them in.
Local Voice Control
This feature lets you interact with smart lights, plugs, and other devices linked to your Echo even if the internet goes out.
It’s compatible with Echo devices that have smart home hub features including the Echo Plus and the new Echo Show.
Talk to Alexa by whispering and the voice assistant will reply quietly, letting you interact with Alexa more quietly if you don’t want to disturb others in the room.
Other new features that are already available or coming soon include a web browser for Echo Show devices, support for multi-step requests, location-based reminders, and support for Skype voice and video calling.
You can read the full list in Amazon’s press release.