Monday , January 25 2021

Alexa’s ‘Tell Me When’ skill combines reminders with contextual information

Amazon has updated Alexa in the last month with a modified version of its popular reminders skill. You can now ask Alexa to “Tell me when” an event happens and your device will give you background information and notify you when it actually occurs.

You’ve been able to set a reminder for an event or task at a specific time for a while, and requesting Alexa to tell you when an event occurs can pull up relevant information. “Tell me when” is sort of a synthesis of the two tasks. Amazon provided a few examples: you could ask Alexa to “Tell me when the next Seahawks game is” and Alexa could tell you the time of the game and set a reminder to watch. Another interesting use is for email, you can now ask Alexa to tell you when an email arrives from a specific person, and Alexa can announce the email’s arrival to save you from constantly checking your inbox. Of course, you’d have to be comfortable giving Alexa access to your email for that feature to work.

“Tell me when” shares some overlap with another earlier skill for severe weather alerts. You can ask Alexa to tell you when there’s a severe weather alert, and the assistant can remind you when there’s one in your area.

It’s may not be the most exciting feature on its face, but “Tell me when” is a good example of how Alexa has picked up the ability to provide more contextual information and follow-up questions over time. Amazon didn’t provide a full range of events that “tell me when” works for when we asked, but you should already be able to try out the skill.

For more updates on Alexa’s growing list of skills check out Amazon’s blog.

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