Amazon has now announced that they’re further expanding Alexa’s ability to push notifications to devices. If you have an Alexa device, like an Echo, you may have noticed earlier in the year that Alexa had gained the ability to notify you about your Amazon deliveries. The ring of light would begin to pulse, indicating a notification was waiting. I was confused and a bit worried the first time it happened to me, since I’d missed the news announcement about it; I thought my Echo Dot might be malfunctioning, considering the weird pulsing light. Since then I’ve found this notification system pretty handy. Your Echo can also flash to let you know when you’ve received a message or call (remember, you can make calls and send messages between Alexa-enabled devices).
Now Alexa’s notifications are getting even better. Alexa devices will now be able to display the flashing ring of light and make a sound when there’s an alert from an enabled skill. The skills that currently work with the new notification feature are few, though—right now it only works with a very small amount, and Amazon only names three in their announcement: The Washington Post, AccuWeather, and Life360. Amazon’s announcement mentions more will be coming soon, and TechCrunch names Just Eat and Astrobot as two other skills that were involved in testing. Oh, and don’t worry: if you don’t want these push notifications, you don’t have to have them. You’ll need to opt-in to get them, and you can disable them in the Alexa app’s settings (Amazon describes how to do this on their website).
It’s hard to tell how soon Amazon means when they say “coming soon,” but hopefully these skills will enable push notifications sooner rather than later. People have been asking for more push notifications for some time now, myself included. Many users have asked to be able to have Alexa interact more and easily offer things like news alerts and calendar items. With The Washington Post, at least, these news alerts will be possible, but if you’re not necessarily a fan of that news provider, you’ll still have to wait to get push notifications about news from other outlets on Alexa. I know I’ll be keeping watch to see when new skills are able to send chiming notifications to my Echo Dot.