Amazon is making Alexa wait for a response longer to help stutterers

Alexa Acessibility
Alexa Acessibility (Image credit: Amazon)

What you need to know

  • Amazon is making changes to Alexa to make it wait longer for stutterers to finish a command or question.
  • The change is part of a new update to the Alexa app on iPhones.

Amazon is changing the way Alexa waits for commands and questions, making the digital assistant wait longer for stutterers. The move, which will be via an opt-in setting in the iPhone Alexa app, will be hugely beneficial to anyone with a speech impairment.

According to a Forbes article, Amazon is keen to help improve the way people interact with Alexa.

"Alexa is a voice-first experience, and we are always looking for ways to improve speech recognition for all speaking styles. Some customers have told us they just need a bit more time before Alexa responds to their requests," said Shehzad Mevawalla, Head of Alexa Speech Recognition at Amazon, in a statement. "That's why we've built this feature—to help improve all customers' interactions with Alexa, and ensure they get the most out of their experience."

A new version of the Alexa app is now available for download from the App Store, although in typical Amazon fashion the update's release notes simply say the following:

Various bug fixes and performance improvements.

You'd think such a big accessibility feature would get more explanation, wouldn't you?

Virtual assistants are already big deals in terms of accessibility and this move by Amazon is a great one for expanding the number of people who can comfortably use such a popular one. Amazon's new speech setting can be enabled for Alexa-powered devices by going to the Device Settings page in the Alexa app.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.