A little over two years ago, Amazon launched Alexa hunches. The feature lets Alexa suggest actions for you based on your habits. If you typically turn a light off every day at the same time and Alexa notices it’s still on, Alexa can offer to turn it off. Now Amazon will allow smart device developers to turn on a new behavior for hunches that act without asking. It should give Alexa true automation powers.
Automation is one of the best features of a smart home when used wisely. You can set up routines that automatically turn lights on and off based on your presence or the time of day. But automation can also be difficult to set up. You’ll need to pick your device names wisely, group your smart devices into rooms, and then set up routines. It’s a lot to ask of the average person.
But Alexa’s hunches bypasses all that. It acts on what it knows about your habits, a lot like Nest’s Learning Thermostat. But until now, Alexa requested permission to act on that knowledge. However, it doesn’t do you any good if you’re asleep or not at home to hear the suggestion to turn off the lights. And that’s why this new feature from Amazon is exciting. Now, if you leave home or it’s late at night and Alexa notices that you left the lights on, it can just turn them off for you. If your thermostat is running like you’re still at home, it can adjust things without asking.
Developers have to integrate hunches into devices and enable the new ability. It’s a change that won’t happen overnight. If your smart plug or bulb already supports Alexa’s hunches, that’s less work, and you may see the feature sooner. But only time will tell how soon we’ll see true automation hit Alexa-powered homes.