Amazon Echo's Alexa is getting push notifications, but they won't annoy you

Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant, has more than 12,000 skills available, and in the coming weeks some of them will be able to send notifications to your Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices.

To start, just four skills will have notifications available including AccuWeather, JustEat, Life360, and The Washington Post. Shopping updates from Amazon's storefront are also coming presumably for item price tracking and the like. Amazon didn't say when notifications would go live for users other than it will happen "soon."

These notifications won't work the same as they do on your phone, where every app immediately wants to start buzzing. Instead, Alexa notifications have to be enabled by users on a per-skill basis.

When a notification arrives there will be a chime, and Echo devices will also have a pulsing green light. The smart speakers won't just start blurting out whatever the information is when a notification lands, either. Instead, users will have to say "Alexa, what did I miss?" or "Alexa, what are my notifications?" Then Alexa will fill them in on breaking news or weather updates.

Anyone who regrets enabling notifications will be able to get rid of them. Users can also temporarily stop notifications by putting Alexa into "do not disturb" mode via voice command or the Alexa app.

While notifications are starting small, Amazon will make the feature available to all developers in the coming months. At that point, Alexa fans can expect many more skills to be notifications-ready.

The impact on you at home: While it may sound handy to get notifications on your Echo device it really only makes sense for certain situations. To get your notifications, you still have to ask Alexa to give up the goods, which makes news and weather seem kind of pointless since you could just ask for them instead. That said, some skill notifications make all kinds of sense, including food delivery or Life 360's family location information. The key will be to figure out which skills really need notifications, and which ones you're better off using on an on-demand basis.

IDG Insider


« Arrow's selling the Raspberry Pi 3 model B for under $25


Surviving Mars turns catastrophe into inspiration as humanity claws for the stars »
IDG News Service

The IDG News Service is the world's leading daily source of global IT news, commentary and editorial resources. The News Service distributes content to IDG's more than 300 IT publications in more than 60 countries.

  • Mail

Recommended for You

Future-proofing the Middle East

Keri Allan looks at the latest trends and technologies

FinancialForce profits from PSA investment

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

Amazon Cloud looms over China: Bezos enters Alibaba home ground

Lewis Page gets down to business across global tech


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?