Amazon is rolling out an updated Alexa app to iOS and Android devices this week, and the company is making the smart home the focus of the redesigned interface.
The Seattle-based tech giant says it is refreshing the Alexa app to bring smart home controls front and center since that is one of the most used features of the company’s intelligent virtual assistant. Amazon bills the updates as a new experience that will enable customers to access their most-used devices and features within just two taps.
The company began rolling out some updates earlier this year, such as a new Home Shortcuts Bar and bringing Device Favorites to the Home page. However, the updates announced this week are a more comprehensive overhaul of the smart home control app.
In addition to more easily accessible Favorites on the Home Page and a new Home Shortcuts bar that organizes devices by category, Amazon is adding a new streamlined activity section with activity cards that shows time-sensitive information like timers, upcoming alarms, or reminders.
Amazon is also touting Map View, which essentially provides a digital version of a home’s floor plan. Users can then pin their connected devices to each room for an at-a-glance view of their smart home ecosystem and the ability to control devices without needing to scroll through long lists or remember device names.
However, Map View will only be available on iOS devices, at least to start. The feature is also only available as a preview to select U.S. customers.
The new Alexa app also features new search controls that allow users to filter content by device type, sort devices by age or alphabetically, and search for devices by name or keywords.
Amazon also says it streamlined the ability to Alexa or type to chat with Alexa in a single location in the app. Any page of the app will have a blue chat indicator that will bring up a holistic chat experience, full-screen visual responses and suggested conversation prompts.
Also, Ring Protect subscribers will soon be able to view up to six snapshots from connected Ring cameras directly from the Home page under Favorites.
The Alexa app updates come shortly after the company announced dozens of new Alexa features during its annual Devices and Services event in September, which largely focused on AI features designed to make controlling smart home systems easier, more intuitive and conversational.
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