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Amazon Preps Push Notifications for Alexa

Amazon.com is planning to give its Alexa voice-activated assistant the ability to speak up— unprompted—with alerts from apps and gadgets, possibly this fall. It’s a change that could make the service much more useful and a feature developers long have asked for.

Right now, users have to start conversations with Alexa, which lives inside devices like Amazon’s Echo speaker. For example, users can ask Alexa to hail an Uber. But because Alexa doesn’t offer alerts—which software developers call push notifications—Alexa can’t tell you when your car arrives. Instead, users have to ask Alexa where their Uber is, and she directs them to look at the app on their phone for the full details.

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Amazon is likely to lay down guidelines for developers, making sure any notifications don’t get sent too often. Amazon would have a chance to check that developers followed these guidelines during the certification process it requires for all “skills” developers want to publish to Alexa users. It’s a similar process to the certification that developers go through to get their apps into Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store.

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“It’s on our wish list that when Alexa does have push notifications, the Echo speaker would notify you that someone is outside your door.”