I’m afraid I might have broken something with my Amazon Alexa: Instead of answering requests, it now beeps. Which I find confusing! What’s going on and how do I have her talk to me again?
Nothing to worry about, Amazon Alexa isn’t mad at you nor has she lost her voice – though if it was replaced by a live celebrity, I might be willing to try that for a day or two! – it’s just a new feature that Amazon has implemented and automatically enabled for everyone: Brief Mode.
I can’t explain why Amazon would think that a new feature should automatically be turned on for everyone without warning, notification or even Alexa saying “Hey! I’m going into Brief Mode to make your life better. If you prefer me more chatty, go into my app and change this setting.”. Generally user interfaces should delight and make sense, not surprise and confuse users, even as changes and updates are implemented.
Anyway, it’s a pretty minor change and only utilized in situations with otherwise simple responses. I noticed it when I asked Alexa to turn off one of our smart lights. Instead of saying “Okay.” she now just has a two-beep sequence to indicate the request was completed successfully. All good, but when I asked her to do something impossible (turn on a non-existent device) it simply had a different beep sequence instead of a voice error message that would have informed me what was happening. Not quite so useful.
You’ll need your smartphone handy, so launch the Alexa app and go to Settings.
You’ll need to swipe down past all your devices. Me? I have quite a few…
Finally, below all of the individual device entries are a group of settings known as “Alexa Account“. That’s what you want to find, because just below all of those is a very small grouping called “General“. Here’s how things lay out in the iPhone app:
If you’re thinking “Hmm… I bet Alexa Voice Responses is a good place to check” you’re spot on! Tap on “Alexa Voice Responses” and it’ll immediately be obvious what to change:
Because it’s designed this way, I suspect we’ll see more options for tweaking Alexa’s “personality”. I’m waiting for a sarcasm setting, personally. Then she’ll really fit in well to the family!