Sassy Persona brings “Conversation Mode” to Alexa

Sassy Persona brings “Conversation Mode” to Alexa


Before I switched the coverage of Alexa/The Amazon Echo to this blog from my I Love My Kindle blog, I wrote back in May about my suggestion to Amazon that we be able to put Alexa into a “conversation mode”. I quoted feedback I had sent to Amazon:

“I am enjoying our new Echo very much. I did want to make a suggestion which would make it feel much more natural. You could introduce the option to put it into conversation mode. Once there, you would not have to say “Alexa” to get it to pay attention to what you said..That would continue until you took it out of conversation mode, or until it was quiet for a certain period of time. For example, that would allow you to ask a question, get an answer, and then say thank you and get a response without having to say “Alexa, thank you.” Getting it into conversation mode could be accomplished with a natural language sentence, like “Alexa, let’s talk.” As you know, the remote already works that way…you don’t have to say Alexa.”

Well, a new Alexa Skill (basically, a third-party app…you can individually enable them in Home – Menu – Skills) does that!

To quote myself again (and it does feel a bit weird to do that), this time from the

Amazon Echo forum thread (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Sassy Persona is a snarkarator: if you ask it for the weather, it may ask you to look outside. However, the interesting new thing here is that you can ask it to “stick around”. It will then stay in Sassy mode (and the light ring will stay on) for several inquiries. This is what I’ve called “conversation mode”…you don’t even need to use the wake word for subsequent inquiries. It exited on its own, or I could exit.

Clearly, this shows that Conversation Mode can be done…which opens some interesting possibilities for the future!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.




6 Responses to “Sassy Persona brings “Conversation Mode” to Alexa”

  1. Morgan Says:

    Bufo, I’m a dedicated ILMK reader and since I got an Echo for xmas I’m now combing through ur Echo blog. I haven’t seen anything on ur blog related to the Echo and books, though. I’ve tried to search goodreads thru Alexa commands, asked about the NYTimes bestseller, etc but Alexa doesn’t seem to know. Thoughts on how to use Alexa for book related searches and questions? Thx.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Morgan!

      I appreciate you checking out this blog as well!

      Alexa does know some book related things…just not the couple you’ve mentioned. 🙂 Eventually, I would expect Alexa to have pretty good integration with Goodreads, given that Amazon owns the latter. It’s also possible a third-party Skill developer could do something.

      Here are some book-related queries I tested after your question (wanted to make sure they worked…I’ve done ones like these before), which did work:

      * What’s the third book in the Harry Potter series?
      * Who wrote Go Set a Watchman?
      * Who is Hermione Granger?
      * What was Stephen King’s last book?

      She doesn’t seem to know many current things with books…she couldn’t give me a price on a popular title, or tell me what the best-selling books are, that sort of thing.

      I asked: “Alexa, read any good books lately?” I think I may suggest that with my #teachalexa. 🙂

      I’ve also suggested that Amazon give us a news option for “Gold Box News”, which would give us the daily deals.

      Oh, one place where is good integration? Audible (also owned by Amazon). Alexa can play you Audible books for you.

      You can also listen to podcasts, so you could listen to book-related blogs.

      The big thing to remember is that we are at the very beginning of Alexa functionality, that we’ve barely scratched the surface. My answer now will likely be outdated within a month. 🙂

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I wish Goodreads would also be more Kindle friendly. Right now, it will only allow you to state progress in reading a book by listing page numbers. I wrote to suggest that they also allow Kindle users to use location numbers. They wrote back with totally incorrect information saying Kindle page numbers were more accurate than Kindle location numbers because location numbers could be changed by font size or other reading preferences, which is not the case at all. It made me think that the Goodreads team and the Kindle team are not on the same page or location.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Well, first, what they told you is from the backwards Bizarro world, of course. 😉 Kindle locations are more accurate than page numbers. Not only are the locations intentionally not impacted by font sizes where page numbers are (the same page number could occur on several screens if your font size is large), they are also smaller units. Is identifying where the centerpiece goes on the table in centimeters more or less accurate than identifying it in kilometers?

        Second, and perhaps more disappointing, is that they didn’t tell you about a Kindle friendly way to enter your progress which is available now! If you click or tap on the title on your home screen, so the detail page opens, you’ll see a place to enter the percentage (if you have indicated you are reading a Kindle version…I don’t know if that’s there if you have indicated you are reading a paper version). Now, a percentage is likely to be less accurate than a page (which is less accurate…or precise, anyway) than a location, unless the book is under 100 pages…but at least, your Kindle/Fire can always tell you that.

        Many Kindle books don’t have page numbers, if they’ve never had a physical edition. I think they did start estimating those for some books at some point.

        I agree, though: they could be much more synced.

        Microsoft bought what became the Microsoft Project software: they didn’t develop it in house. When I taught Microsoft software commonly, I’d have to point out the different philosophies in Project and everything else from Microsoft: what menus did, for example. I would put it this way: “It’s clear that the people who make Project don’t go to lunch with the people who make Excel…”

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        Unfortunately, I can’t get to Goodreads on my Voyage because I don’t have a wi-fi connection. It’s frustrating because at one time I could get more information about books that were part of a series with the 3G connection, but that’s no longer available.

  2. Morgan Says:

    This was helpful, thank you

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