Tech companies are still working out how users want to interact with voice assistants, but it seems one option is making them less chatty. Amazon, for example, is apparently testing a new “brief mode” for Alexa devices that replaces some of the virtual assistant’s verbal responses and confirmations with beeps.
Users on Reddit were the first to report the feature with AFTVnews picking it up. One Redditor writes: “I just asked Alexa to turn on my lights, she said ‘OK’ just like normal, but after that, she said that this would be the last time she would, and that I would hear a beep tone instead on a successful command.”
This seems to be the only difference with brief mode — using beeps instead of verbal cues to acknowledge successful commands — but it’s not hard to imagine how Amazon might expand its applications. (We’ve reached out to the company to find out and will update the story if they reply.)
For example, you might want to set certain times of day as “do not disturb,” so Alexa will automatically use non-verbal responses late at night and early in the morning. It would also be great to have the option to trim verbal responses for common commands. When you ask Alexa how long is left on a timer, you don’t need to hear “You have one timer with x number of minutes remaining” every time.
In other words, there’s a lot Amazon could do here, and it’s interesting to think about how these design choices might improve the user experience. As long as they don’t bring back Alexa’s creepy laughs.