Imagine it is midnight, you're in bed next to your partner who is already sleeping, and you forgot to set an alarm for the morning on your Alexa device sitting across the room. In this situation, you'd have to get up, turn down the device's volume, and speak a command loud enough so that Alexa hears you - all while not disrupting your snoozing partner. Spoiler alert: it's nearly impossible to do.
Since Alexa launched on Echo devices, you've had to speak loud and clear enough for it to understand you, making it difficult to use the assistant without waking people nearby or being a nuisance. However, starting 18 October, Alexa is gaining a new so-called Whisper Mode, which allows the voice assistant to hear whispered commands. It's also able to whisper back when it responds.
What is Alexa Whisper Mode?
Whisper Mode is one of many features Amazon has been developing to make Alexa more contextually aware. Amazon already previewed the feature when it opened up its Speech Synthesis Markup Language for developers last year. Alexa lead scientist Rohit Prasad said it allows Alexa to “automatically learn the features of audio signals useful for detecting sound events or whispered speech".
Whisper Mode uses the same machine learning network that’s being used for Alexa Guard, another feature that enables Alexa to recognise “smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and glass breaking”. You can learn more about these new efforts from Amazon's blog post here.
How to turn on Alexa Whisper Mode
Enable Whisper Mode with a voice command
Whisper Mode can also be enabled by voice.
- Say, “Alexa, turn on Whisper Mode.”
Enable Whisper Mode in the Alexa app
You can enable Whisper Mode in the Alexa App under Settings.
- Open the Alexa app
- Go to your Alexa Account
- Select Alexa Voice Responses
- Turn on Whispered Responses.
How does Alexa Whisper Mode work?
Once you've enabled the feature, ask Alexa a question using your quiet indoor voice. Alexa will reply back in the same manner. We suspect this will come in handy for parents who want to use Alexa without waking a partner or baby.
Examples of Whisper Mode in action
Alexa's new whisper mode is clever but also kinda super creepy??? pic.twitter.com/N6IM1mQoee— dan seifert (@dcseifert) October 18, 2018
Which devices support Alexa Whisper Mode?
Currently, we know Whisper Mode is available for all Echo devices. We're asking Amazon if third-party Alexa devices also support it.
Where is Alexa Whisper Mode available?
It is now rolling out to users in the US. It’s currently only available in English.