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New smart speaker expected as Apple kicks off conference

06 June 2017, 06:32 | Dawn Berry

The Verge

The Verge

Both new features are pretty straightforward in what they offer. When that time expires, the Echo will clarify which timer is going off, saying, "Your grill (or whatever) timer is done".

We're not sure where Amazon is sourcing the data from, but it would appear the company will operate this in the same ways as "Flash Briefings" from multiple news sources.

The Amazon Echo has now been out for nearly two years, but it's been missing a pretty critical feature that probably should have been available at launch: reminders.

With a new update on Thursday, the e-commerce giant said that Alexa can now set timers and reminders, the latter of which is a feature Amazon ("amzn") said was one of the most requested for the voice assistant.

Starting today, the assistant that powers Amazon's Echo smart speakers and more can now set reminders and named timers to keep you on track. Alexa still lacks context for AM / PM reminders and alarms (unlike Siri and Google Assistant), which is actively annoying, so don't forget the abbreviation.

Thankfully the Echo update adds named timers, so you can set a number of different ones simultaneously.

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But even if Siri doubles its areas of expertise, it will be a far cry from the 12,000 or so tasks that Amazon.com's Alexa can handle. Considering how common and useful setting a timer is, the addition is one that should've been available since Alexa's inception. Alexa can also update you on the status of any timer on demand, or cancel them if needed. You can also ask Alexa to remind you to do things like put the laundry in the dryer, pay bills, or send your dad a Father's Day card. You can create new ones from within the app too, if you happen to be away from your Echo device at the time.

The good news is, you don't have to so much as lift a finger to get the update.

However, people in the know have told Reuters Apple won't go in full charge trying to make everything voice-powered like Amazon, but will instead focus on perfecting a few new features that work well, test them, then roll out more.

Amazon has promised us that this update will hit United Kingdom and German Echo devices in the "next couple of weeks".

I've owned an Amazon Echo for more than a year now, and it's completely changed the way I live in my apartment.

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