Amazon buried a little switch in the Alexa app that allows its AI assistant to be a lot more conversational.

Available only in the US, the new feature is called "Follow-Up Mode," and when it's turned on, you can make more requests without having to repeat the "Alexa" wake word. Previously, when you asked Alexa a question, you had to say the wake word every time. You couldn't say, "Alexa, turn off the lights," then wait, and add, "Set the thermostat to 72." You had to say, "Alexa, set the thermostat to 72."

Not anymore. Follow-Up Mode changes all that. After switching it on, ask Alexa a question or say a command. The blue indicator light on your Echo device will continue shining for about five seconds to allow additional requests. However, to get it to work properly, you have to wait for Alexa to say “OK” - to ensure she completed your first request. If she does, you can continue with your string of commands.

For instance, you can say, “Alexa, turn on the TV," and then after Alexa says "OK," you can immediately add, “Lock the door." After five seconds or so of no additional voice commands, Alexa's Follow-up Mode will stop and the blue indicator light will turn off. However, at any time, you can abruptly stop Follow-up Mode by saying “stop,” “cancel,” “go to sleep,” or “thank You.” Neat, right?

Pocket-lintAlexa Follow-up Mode How To Enable It So You Can Ask Multiple Questions image 2
  1. Open the latest version of the Alexa mobile app.
  2. Locate and select your Echo device.
  3. Scroll down to the Follow-Up Mode toggle and turn it on.
  4. Ask Alexa follow-up questions without repeating the wake word.
  1. Go to Alexa on the web.
  2. Go to the Menu
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Scroll down to Follow-Up Mode and use the toggle to turn it on.
  5. Ask Alexa follow-up questions without repeating the wake word.

Here's a string of questions you can ask, as an example:

  1. Alexa, who is the President of the US?
  2. Where was he born?
  3. How old is he?

Notice you don't need to say "Alexa" for any of the follow-up questions. Also, Alexa will recognise the subject of your question. That means you don't have to say "President" in each of your additional questions. Just say it once, and she'll recognise who you are asking about each time. Follow-Up Mode also works for other questions, smart home commands, music requests, and anything else you usually ask Alexa. 

Amazon warns that the feature will not work when your Echo device is playing music, books, or you're on a call through the device. Also, Alexa may not be confident you're speaking to her if she "detects that speech was background noise or that the intent of the speech was not clear". In other words, Alexa will only respond to requests she's definitely recognised - and not just background noise.

So, it'll be interesting to see how well this feature works going forward.

The feature appears to be available for the entire Amazon Echo lineup, as well as some third-party Alexa devices.

The feature is currently only available in US English in the US.