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‘Alexa, Why Do We Keep Buying You?’


When Amazon released Alexa in 2014, the corporate had big dreams for the technology. The voice assistant, the corporate suggested, could succeed smartphones as the following essential consumer interface.

Alexa, which was embedded in Amazon’s voice-activated Echo smart speakers, soon became one of the vital popular voice assistants, alongside Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant.

But nearly a decade on, questions have arisen in regards to the utility of voice assistants, including how often people use Alexa to buy items or buy subscriptions. In November, Amazon began corporate layoffs, a few of which targeted the division that makes Alexa and the Echo speakers.

An Amazon representative referred to comments its executives have made that the corporate is not giving up on Alexa and that it’ll proceed developing recent features for it.

We decided to ask readers how they use and interact with Alexa and the way the technology suits into their lives. Nearly 200 people in the US and Europe responded.

Those that relied on the voice assistant said they used it mainly for mundane tasks corresponding to setting timers and checking the weather. Many said that they had grown attached to Alexa and missed it after they were away. Most said they didn’t use Alexa to assist them with shopping. Others told us, just as emphatically, that they’d never use an Alexa device.

Here’s a choice of the responses in readers’ own words, which have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Susan Jackson lives on Bainbridge Island, Wash. She has two Alexa-enabled devices.

I’m 73, live alone, and I take advantage of Alexa on daily basis to inform me the weather, activate the lights, tell me the time in foreign countries so I can call people there, and for cooking. Plenty of cooking problems solved by Alexa. She helps me cut down recipes; she patiently tells me what number of teaspoons are in a tablespoon.

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I take advantage of it for some reading lights and ALWAYS for my Christmas tree. Nothing worse than crawling under your tree to show it on and off.

If I met someone, she or he would must fit into my life. They might must love my house, my dogs, my Alexa, my drawing, my friends … or they’ll go to hell!

David Webster lives in Cornwall, England, along with his wife and their three children. He said they use their Alexa devices multiple times a day.

Many, many basic items we use it for. We can be lost without it.

It’s things like timers. I do know that if the oven is on, there’s not less than one Alexa timer going. If Janine, my wife, is cooking something, a lot of her recipes are from American cookbooks, and she is going to have to convert them to the metric system.

I could do it on the phone. But I’ve got wet hands, or my wife has flour on her hands. We’re opening the oven. I don’t need to touch one other device — talking to it’s so convenient.

If we’re having a discussion across the dining room table, and he or she’s in the following room, just shout out “Alexa …”

Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis. She asked that her last name not be used to guard her mother’s privacy. Elizabeth doesn’t use Alexa in her own residence, but she has two devices with screens in her mother’s apartment. She and her sister use the Alexa app on their phones to administer their mother’s devices remotely.

My mother has dementia, and Alexa allows us to maintain her secure, to offer her companionship, to make her days brighter with music — the list goes on and on. It shouldn’t be an overstatement to say it helps us keep her out of a nursing home.

We primarily use the app to make “Announcements”: These are phrases we type into the app that the machine then says aloud. We use this feature within the moment and in addition on a repeat schedule. The Echo device also shows the announcement text on the screen, so my mother can read it (an enormous help). Examples are little announcements in regards to the weather and such that keep her company. The indisputable fact that a warm voice is within the room together with her seems to offer her a way of companionship that the phone doesn’t.

Using the app’s “Drop In” feature and our iPhone cameras, we are able to appear on one in all her Echo devices (using additional Blink cameras, we are able to see which room she’s in) and initiate a call without her having to do anything on her end. We’ll use this if she’s left the phone off the hook or if we feel it’s needed or helpful for her to see us.

We also use the “Routines” feature to manage the lights in my mother’s apartment. In accordance with her doctor, keeping her home well lit is significant to managing her confusion and avoiding napping throughout the day. The routines feature helps us avoid having to make call after call to remind her of activities.

Maria Kinaman lives in Miami together with her husband and two young daughters. They’ve six Alexa devices.

Alexa feels as if she’s on staff at this point. We overuse her for music, but in addition as a timer, for the weather, to play white noise, and we have now synced it with our home security system and use it to lock and set the alarm for our doors. Not once have I made a purchase order off it, though.

I even have taken Alexa with me on vacations which can be longer than two days.

Brendan T. Freeman lives in Burien, Wash., along with his two dogs. He has 60 devices controlled by Alexa in his home, including lights, fans and heaters.

I wake every morning at 3:30 to drink coffee and skim The Recent York Times. I walk into the kitchen and say the wake word — “shake” — which activates and dims three fixtures (one within the kitchen so I can see, one within the lounge and one within the bedroom). The coffee is freshly brewed, turned on by the Alexa app at 3:20.

While I lie in my bed with my laptop reading the news, the Alexa app activates a Pandora light jazz station at 4 a.m. If I occur to oversleep, the music serves as my alarm clock.

Once I first sit down in my office at 7 a.m., I have a look at my calendar and ask Echo to set alarms 10 minutes before any scheduled meetings I even have. If there’s something I would like to recollect to do throughout the day (buy pet food, call the doctor’s office), I’ll ask Alexa to set a reminder at a certain time.

When I’m going to bed, I say, “Echo bedtime,” and all of the lights throughout the condo turn off.

Yiu Wai Chan lives in Brooklyn along with his wife and two children, ages 11 and seven. They own 13 Alexa-enabled devices and nine other smart devices.

We use it to activate and off our lounge lights and to drop in (talk from our phone to the Alexa Dot devices) from the automotive to examine in on our children sometimes.

We now have no plans to buy with it, as we like to essentially research our purchases and see items in person or not less than in videos or in pictures online before buying.

Michael Redmond lives in Rehoboth Beach, Del., along with his husband. They’ve seven Alexa devices and three Google smart devices.

We now have a Wyze camera trained on the sump pump in our crawl space, whose feed we display on an Alexa Show. It’s a pain to physically go into the basement to examine the pump.

We don’t use it to buy on Amazon. It’s too hard to check prices using the device.

We take an Alexa Dot with us once we travel.

Kerry Hoffman lives in Brooklyn together with her husband and cat. They’ve 4 Alexa-enabled devices.

My husband arrange automatic blinds which can be controlled by Alexa. Not only can she open and shut the blinds fully, she will be able to adjust the shades up and down, too. We are saying, “Alexa, set lounge blinds to three percent,” and he or she’ll open the shades so we are able to see outside.

Aaron Lawless lives in Springfield, Va., along with his wife and two children.

In an era of massive hacks and data breaches, having an always-listening device connected to the web sitting in my house shouldn’t be well worth the risk.

My wife is with me on not wanting an Alexa, but my 10-year-old has mentioned that it may be fun to have Alexa. He hears his friends discuss having Alexa, and he’s sold on the coolness of it. Mom and I are in agreement that it’s not happening, though.

Heather Keever lives within the Chicago suburbs together with her husband and 15-year-old son.

It is vitally vital to maintain Alexa, Echo, etc., devices out of our family. We’ve returned ones “gifted” to us; we don’t want them.

I attempted my brother’s Alexa once we were visiting him to set an oven timer. It worked, but setting the actual timer on the oven worked just as well (possibly easier).

I’m not willing to offer up my privacy for things I can easily do without.

Richard Feury lives in Shelburne Falls, Mass., along with his wife.

Don’t need one. Don’t want one. Wish they’d go away.

I’m not so lazy that I need a machine to activate the lights, lock the doors or switch from Hulu to Netflix for me. My legs and fingers still work just nice.

And I don’t desire a device like Alexa to be utilized by corporations to learn more about my habits, lifestyle, political leanings, etc. I value what little privacy I still have, and Alexa erodes that.

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