(Pocket-lint) - Amazon has introduced a couple of major new features to Alexa, to be used through compatible devices such as the Amazon Echo.

There are two main features added: Reminders and Named Timers, with the former available in the US, UK and Germany. Currently, Named Timers is only available in the States, but it's coming to the UK and Germany in "the coming weeks".

Reminders enables users to ask Alexa to set a reminder for a specific date and time, so that they don't miss an upcoming event.

A reminder can be set through a simple contextual sentence, such as, "Alexa, remind me to pick up the dry cleaning on Thursday at 5pm." The blue light on an Amazon Echo, for example, will then glow blue at 17:00 hours on Thursday that week. Alexa will also give you a verbal nudge.

You don't even need to set reminders so far ahead. You can use it for daily chores like cooking or laundry by saying something like, "Alexa, remind me to change the laundry in 40 minutes."

Reminders can also be set or altered through the alerts and alarms section of the Alexa app.

Named Timers are also handy for daily tasks, cooking especially. You can set multiple timers and get Alexa to name each one in turn. For example, if your pasta takes longer to cook than garlic bread, you can set one timer for the garlic bread and one for the pasta. Alexa will then tell you when each is ready.

You can alter and cancel active timers by voice or in the app. You can even ask Alexa how long a timer is left to run.

The Amazon Echo is currently £149.99 in black or white on Amazon.co.uk. It costs $179.99 on Amazon.com in the States.

Writing by Rik Henderson.