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Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is getting a key upgrade that’s very reminiscent of Nest thermostat capabilities – an option to learn from your smart home habits to start predictively controlling devices based on what it thinks or knows you’ll want.
This ability actually existed in Alexa before, albeit in a limited form. Called Alexa Hunches, if you activated Alexa at a certain time of day or with certain keywords, then Alexa would offer to make additional smart home changes based on your past habits.
For example, if you were leaving the house and turned on the Alexa Guard feature to listen for intruders, then Alexa might say something like, “Do you want me to lock your smart door?”
The key is that past Hunches still relied on verbal commands for activation, whereas something like the Nest Learning Thermostat does all of its sensing and calculations in the background.
Now, Amazon is adding more abilities to Hunches to work automatically with less input from humans.
How Do I Set up Hunches?
With the latest update, you can go into the Alexa app, tap More, then Settings, and select Hunches. Here you will be able to set up “Automatic Actions” and choose from a list of actions based on the smart devices that Alexa is connected to.
With the Automatic Actions turned on, Alexa will take extra steps based on the commands given. If you add more smart devices to your home, then your options for Automatic Actions may increase. Of course, you can do this all manually as well by using the Alexa app to set up Routines, which can manage multiple smart devices with a single voice command.
The problem is that many people don’t know where to start with routines, and as they add more smart devices to their home, they may not be thinking of the ways that devices could work together. Automatic Hunches are essentially suggestions for enabling routines that the user may not have thought of and are a great way to get started using routines in general.
In addition to the big update for Hunches, Amazon is also releasing the promised update for Alexa Guard, called Alexa Guard Plus. While Guard is free, Guard Plus is a subscription service that, for $5 per month, will connect Guard with a monitoring service that can take more immediate professional action for those who want it.
Alexa is also getting energy monitoring to help judge how much electricity all connected devices are using up.
For now, if you have several Alexa-connected smart devices, we suggest updating Alexa and taking a look at Automatic Actions for Hunches to see if there are any helpful routines you may have been missing!