Now you’re ready to set up your flash briefing feed. First, type in a custom error message, which can be up to 100 characters. Alexa will say this text to the user if the skill fails to deliver the content. For instance, you might say something like, “[Skill name] is not available at the moment.” To hear a preview of Alexa saying your error message, click the Play button on the right.
In November 2018, Amazon sent 1700 recordings of an American couple to an unrelated European man. The incident proves that Alexa records people without their knowledge.[76] Although the man who received the recordings reported the anomaly to Amazon, the company did not notify the victim until German magazine c't also contacted them and published a story about the incident. The recipient of the recordings contacted the publication after weeks went by following his report with no response from Amazon (although the company did delete the recordings from its server). When Amazon did finally contact the man whose recordings had been sent to a stranger, they claimed to have discovered the error themselves and offered him a free Prime membership and new Alexa devices by way of apology.[77]
For households with more than one member, one's Alexa contacts are pooled across all of the devices that are registered to its associated account. However, within Alexa's app one is only able to start conversations with its Alexa contacts.[50] When accessed and supported by an Alexa app or Echo device, Alexa messaging is available to anyone in one's household. These messages can be heard by anyone with access in the household. This messaging feature does not yet contain a password protection or associated PIN. Anyone who has access to one's cell phone number is able to use this feature to contact them through their supported Alexa app or Echo device. The feature to block alerts for messages and calls is available temporarily by utilizing the Do Not Disturb feature.[51]

There are concerns about the access Amazon has to private conversations in the home and other non-verbal indications that can identify who is present in the home with non-stop audio pick-up from Alexa-enabled devices.[69][70] Amazon responds to these concerns by stating that the devices only stream recordings from the user's home when the 'wake word' activates the device.
In the home automation space, Alexa can interact with devices from several manufacturers including SNAS, Fibaro, Belkin, ecobee, Geeni, IFTTT,[35] Insteon, LIFX, LightwaveRF, Nest, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Wink,[36][37] and Yonomi.[38] The Home Automation feature was launched on April 8, 2015.[39] Developers are able to create their own smart home skills using the Alexa Skills Kit.
Google and Amazon each have different strengths here. Google, naturally, has the ability to answer some pretty darn complex questions—it is Google, after all. Alexa does better with more simple queries. Amazon’s AI, thanks to its third-party skills, can actually respond (or act) on a wider variety of requests than you can with Google’s assistant, though. So if you want your smart speaker to be more of an actual assistant—performing tasks for you, ordering things on Amazon for you—Alexa is what you want.
Audio quality may be in the ear of the beholder. The Wirecutter thought the Amazon Echo just edged out Google Home; PCMag, however, preferred the tones of Google’s smart home speaker. Basically: Both are comparable in terms of quality. However, if you stream music on Apple Music, Soundcloud, or Google Play, you’ll want to go with a Google Home over an Echo.
One of my favorite features of Amazon’s voice controlled speakers, the Echo and Echo Dot, is the Alexa News Flash skill. Out of the box, it plays you a quick news briefing from standard news sources. What you probably didn’t know however was that you can customize your Alexa Flash Briefing with literally thousands of skills, tailored perfectly to the news you want. Here’s how it all works and how to set it up.
In addition to performing pre-set functions, Alexa can also perform additional functions through third-party skills that users can enable.[28] Some of the most popular Alexa skills in 2018 included "Question of the Day" and "National Geographic Geo Quiz" for trivia; "TuneIn Live" to listen to live sporting events and news stations; "Big Sky" for hyper local weather updates; "Sleep and Relaxation Sounds" for listening to calming sounds; "Sesame Street" for children's entertainment; and "Fitbit" for Fitbit users who want to check in on their health stats.[29]
In addition to performing pre-set functions, Alexa can also perform additional functions through third-party skills that users can enable.[28] Some of the most popular Alexa skills in 2018 included "Question of the Day" and "National Geographic Geo Quiz" for trivia; "TuneIn Live" to listen to live sporting events and news stations; "Big Sky" for hyper local weather updates; "Sleep and Relaxation Sounds" for listening to calming sounds; "Sesame Street" for children's entertainment; and "Fitbit" for Fitbit users who want to check in on their health stats.[29]

Alexa is able to stream media and music directly. To do this, Alexa's device should be linked to the Amazon account, which enables access to one's Amazon Music library, in addition to any audiobooks available in one's Audible library. Amazon Prime members have an additional ability to access stations, playlists, and over two million songs free of charge. Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers also have access to a list of millions of songs.
Flash briefings are great for quickly informing your audience, but a fully interactive Alexa skill or Google Assistant action will allow even more freedom. With a well-designed skill, you can provide personalized service and content to your audience at any time — not just once a day or week. With a voice chatbot analytics tool like we provide as Botanalytics, you can also receive helpful usage data to get to know your audience even better.
^ Green, Penelope (11 July 2017). "'Alexa, Where Have You Been All My Life?'". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2017. When Toni Reid and her colleagues at Amazon set out to build the device that is now known as Alexa, they were inspired by the computer that drove the Enterprise on Star Trek (voiced by Majel Barrett Roddenberry, who played Nurse Chapel on the series and was married to the show's creator). Focusing on cadence and an accent that would suggest 'smart, humble, helpful,' the team tested voices that a diverse population would respond to. 'Our goal was to have Alexa be humanlike,' Ms. Reid said, but why end there?
×