Alexa gets a(nother) game changing new feature: memory! [updated]

Alexa gets a(nother) game changing new feature: memory! [updated]

I recently wrote that this was going to happen, although I was surprised when it showed up this morning!

Well, it happened when the Alexa app last updated, I’m sure…I’m running 2.2.2— on a Samsung Galaxy S7. It updated on May 2nd.

However, I’m not seeing any documentation on it at Google Play or within the app. It could be that the ability is out there, but they haven’t fully documented it yet…that has happened with Amazon before.

So, what’s the feature?

Memory.

Sure, you’ve been able to enter things into Alexa memory before…using a shopping list or to do list, for example.

This is much simpler than that.

You just…tell Alexa to remember something.

For example, I said, “Alexa, remember that Doc Savage’s first name is Clark.”

Then, later, I could say, “Alexa, what is Doc Savage’s first name?”

Alexa told me, and told me that I had asked Alexa to remember that.

I wanted to check the parsing, so I said, “Whose first name is Clark?”

No problem: the response was, “Doc Savage’s first name is Clark.”

I was curious what would happen if the same answer was true for two things. I told it to remember that Superman’s first name is Clark.

After that, when I asked whose name is Clark, it told me both of them…cool!

The next thing I did was give it contradictory facts…so I told Alexa that Superman’s first name was Wayne. When I asked what Superman’s first name was, it told me Clark and Wayne…impressive!

I did test: I could ask Alexa in the (free) Amazon shopping app, and it knew what I had asked our

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

to remember.

I can see many uses for this, including as a quiz. My guess is the most common use will be the equivalent of jotting something down on a piece of paper.

I’ve checked at the Amazon site as well, and can’t find anything on this yet. One big thing I haven’t discovered yet is how to get Alexa to forget something. 😉 I’ve asked several ways. I also couldn’t find what it was remembering in the Alexa app…I suspect the documentation will show up in the few days. [SEE UPDATE BELOW]

I’m assuming any information being remembered can be seen by anybody on the account…at least those with the credentials (username and password).

I also don’t know how secure this is, although I’m assuming as secure as anything else on your Amazon account.

If you test it out, I’d be curious about what you think! Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Update: I got some responses from Amazon…good to know!


Hello Bufo,

I understand your concern regarding the New Feature “Remember This”. Glad to assist you.

A) Regarding your First Query. To  make Alexa forget something that you told it to remember, you need to delete the information from the Alexa App.

To do so:

1. Go to the homepage in the Alexa app.

2. Find the card containing the information you want to delete.

3. Select “Delete.”

When you delete the card, Alexa no longer remembers the information.

——- Are there limitations as to how long the responses can be or how many there can be?

Currently there are no limitations or restrictions as how long the response can be or how many there can be.

3. Who sees the responses that are stored… Is it safe to put in, for example, a social security number?
Utterance ID:

You’ll be able to see the responses in the Alexa App. i.e who ever has the access to your Alexa app, they will be able to see the responses stored.

If you still have any other or related concerns, please feel free to write back to us, we will be happy to assist you.


I tested deleting a card (the spurious information about Superman’s first name being Wayne)…worked like a charm.

Oh, I also tried asking like Bizarro might: “What Superman name?” That worked, too. 🙂 Just, “Superman name” didn’t, though.


Another update: since it picks out individual words, you can categorize by mentioning the category. I’m preparing a charitable donation today. When it comes time to do the taxes, I’ve often had to dig a bit to find which organizations and what dates. I asked it to remember, “We made a donation to [organization name] for the taxes on [date].” When I said, “What about the taxes?” it told me my full statement…and would do so with multiple items.

Another good use for me: I’m watching an old movie, and there’s something in it that might spark an article on my The Measured Circle blog…but I probably won’t get to it for a while. I said, “Remember that [movie name] has [trivia] for The Measured Circle.” Then I asked, “What about The Measured Circle?”, and there was my writing prompt!

Truly game changing!


Another update: you can easily delete and edit your items! If you say, “Alexa, what did I ask you to remember?”, then go to the Alexa app on your phone, you’ll see a list. With each one, you can delete it (with the “x”) or edit it (with the “pencil”). I deliberately said a wrong fact. Then, I edited it in the app…it instantly knew the right answer.

So many possibilities! I’ve already used it to remember where the Mothers’ Day gifts are, for example. This is a true digital assistant, like Iron Man’s Jarvis. 😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* 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 I Love My Kindle 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.

14 Responses to “Alexa gets a(nother) game changing new feature: memory! [updated]”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    If you ask Alexa to remember wrong information, can you later correct it by asking Alexa to forget something.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I sure hope so! 🙂 That’s one of the things I tried to discover both through experimentation and looking for documentation (which I didn’t find).

      It’s not just for wrong information. Imagine you are going to have a birthday party, and you ask Alexa to, “Remember that Pat is the best!” Then, a mischievous family member secretly says, “Alexa, remember that Pat smells like a burned grilled cheese.” When you said, “Alexa, what is Pat?” Alexa would say, “Pat is the best and smells like a burned grilled cheese,” or something like that. That may not work quite like that…but those compound responses could be…awkward.

      Hopefully, we’ll get documentation soon.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        By the way, I’ve now asked Amazon these three questions (approximately):

        * How do I get it to forget something I asked it to remember?
        * Is there a limit as to how long the responses can be or how many are stored?
        * Who sees the stored information? Would it be safe, for example, to put in a Social Security Number?

        It’s already been useful for me in a practical way. The battery on my key fob for my car appears to be dying (no surprise…it’s had five years of pretty much daily use). I had Alexa remember the battery type when I looked it up. Alexa then recalled it for me when I was ordering it…and would know it again five years from now, presumably.

  2. Joe Bowers Says:

    Sorry for being “that guy,” but Superman’s first name is Kal. 😁

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Joe!

      😉

      Actually, Kal-El is a compound name, right? On Krypton, Kal-El and Jor-El (and Mon-El) are of the “House of El”…at least, I don’t think of “El” as a last name. I would argue that Kal-El did not become Superman until being on Earth…and Superman is more of a…nickname. If Superman has an Earthly name, I would still argue that it is Clark Kent. I suspect “Supes” might make that argument, having known the identify of Clark Kent growing up.

      Makes for an interesting discussion…thanks!

      • Joe Bowers Says:

        I was just having a little fun with you and the topic. Playing on the term “first name,” he was Kal-El first, just struck me when reading your post. You always get me thinking in one way or another! Have a great time!

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        I was having fun, too, and that is an excellent point! I did not think about his first name being the first one that was given, which I would say is Kal-El…amusingly, my speech-to-text rendered that as “cowbell”…

  3. Phink Says:

    I love this. I have a very hard time remembering my grandchildren’s birthdays. Perhaps it’s because I know somebody will let me know when their day arrives. Now, Alexa can remember for me. I already asked my wife what they were and told Alexa to remember. It worked great.

    • Lady Galaxy Says:

      Will Alexa remember to prompt you a few days before the birthday or even on the birthday, or will you have to ask it a directly, “Is today Ignatz’s birthday?”

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        You can get a reminder like that, but it isn’t through the new functionality…which doesn’t seem to parse the type of fact it is (I don’t think, “Remember that Ignatz’s birthday is May 6th” is recognized as a date storage.

        You can say, “Alexa, remind me that Ignatz’s birthday is coming on May 4th at 7:00 AM.” You can set recurring reminders, but not annual ones.

        I think eventually, when you tell Alexa to remember someone’s birthday, it will ask for a category, and then interact with it appropriately. The “Ignatz’s birthday” fact might be followed by, “Is that a birthday? Would you like me to remind you about it three days before?” If you said, “No, two weeks before”, it would get that…and on the confirmation, it could ask you if the reminder is just once or annually…but that’s not here yet. 🙂

  4. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I seem to remember reading a review of this in the tech press, and there was an Alexa command that would cause her to spew her “memory” guts.

    Ideally, the Alexa app should have something that shows all your memorized items with the ability to delete some or all of them.

    You can already see what Alexa has “heard” in the Alexa app — so I don’t imagine dealing with stored memories could be all that difficult.

    The kinds of things that I might place on paper notepads are not the sorts of things I would be comfortable putting in the cloud.

    I’ll have to see how this all evolves.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      That’s the communication, “What did I ask you to remember?” However, it only seems to give me the last three. After that, you can ask a topical question, and it seems to be pretty natural language. I asked it to tell me, “What first names did I ask you to remember?” and it told them to me. I said, “What did I ask you to remember about the key?” It gave me the answer, even though the original formulation was, “The [model car’s] key battery is [battery type].” It’s pretty impressive to me that it picks out the one word…and without a noticeable delay.

      That “comfortable with the cloud” issue is related to one of my inquiries to them…although I’d say we may not have the same concerns about everything. For example, if I heard that the neighborhood garage sale was on a certain date, or that a relative liked a particular type of snack, or what a celebrity’s real name was…those would be nice to simply store. It also consolidates things nicely…I don’t have to say to add it to a shopping list versus a calendar, for example.

  5. Edward Boyhan Says:

    So I’ve just finished attending Microsoft Build 2018 in Seattle(virtually not virtuously :roll:), and there was a whole lot of emphasis there on “AI”. It all made me think that the way Amazon is approaching “AI” with things like this memory feature is quite different from Microsoft’s approach.

    You’ll probably never see MS announcing end-user AI features the way Amazon does.

    What MS has done is very rigorously categorize “AI” into 6 domains: vision, speech, conversations, language, knowledge, and search. They’ve taken a humongous amount of data (the wrangling of which is monumental) in each of these domains fed each domains data into a machine learning apparatus (with some very focused questions to be answered) to train things until an “AI” model results that can be included within any application that a developer might be working on using traditional programming tools. The result is an app with some “AI” components built-in. The targets for all this are large enterprise Line Of Business (LOB) apps — not for garden variety users like you and I (and presumably most of those that linger around ILMK).

    One other thing: MS is very careful to say that while the results may look like something that a real human might do, what’s under the covers is a lot of fairly ugly math that is nothing like what real people do — that we are years, perhaps decades before we even begin to approach what goes on in the jelly between our ears.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      No question, Amazon approaches development of AI (and other things) very differently from Microsoft. Amazon is focused on customers…a simulated AI that customers liked, and with which they engaged, would be seen as a positive by Amazon. I think Microsoft wants to actually develop something…new tech which could become bedrock for people in the future. Also, as you point out, MS focuses more on enterprise, Amazon more on individuals…with the exception of some things, like AWS (Amazon Web Services).

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