The speaker that speaks might soon speak without you speaking to ask it to speak. Amazon’s Echo is set to get push notifications, according to The Information, which would allow it to give you a heads up about activity from its connected services, so it could, for example, tell you when your connected doorbell rings or pipe up and tell you when a loved one’s flight has landed.
Currently, Echo only speaks when spoken to; a user has to use the activation word “Alexa” to prompt it to begin listening for a command or request, and then it’ll respond to said input with its own vocal response. Alexa hasn’t supported the ability to provide any kind of audio notice unprompted as a result of data it receives from a user’s connected services – the closest it comes is being able to sound an alert based on an alarm or timer.
Echo has both audio and visual capabilities, thanks to a light ring that surrounds its super edge, and The Information suggests Amazon could allow developers access to both for push notifications, so that users can choose how much of an intrusion said notices provide.
Alexa is also a service that exists unbound from the Echo hardware itself, and it’s very possible than any push notification support would extend to other hardware that uses the Alexa API, including the Nucleus smart intercom. The Information says the use of push notices would be part of a larger plan to give developers more control of third-party apps and gadgets overall via Echo and Alexa.
Notifications will be a tricky thing to get right on Echo, since a push alert with voice in a device with not display is a very different thing from a subtle vibration or screen-based alert on a smartphone. Still, it’s a feature that could do very well provided the user has total and intuitive control over when they’re alerted, and how.