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Alexa can now connect you with local businesses

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Alexa’s routines are also getting a lot more helpful

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Alexa has been able to tell you the opening hours and phone numbers of local businesses since July, but a recent update means it can now actually place a call on your behalf. It doesn’t go quite as far as Google Duplex, which has Google’s voice assistant call businesses and talk to them on your behalf, but it should save you some time if you’re already using Alexa to search for your nearest Domino’s.

Alongside these local business additions, Alexa’s routines are getting a handful of new capabilities. You’ll now be able to have them make announcements or generate mobile notifications, automatically switch an Echo device into its Do Not Disturb mode, or stop audio playback.

That’s a lot of new functionality, and combined with the location-based Alexa triggers that Amazon announced back in September, Amazon’s voice assistant is now equipped to automate a lot more of your life. For example, you could have Alexa automatically turn off your music, generate an announcement to let your household know that you’ve left, and ping a mobile notification to someone outside of the house to let them know you’re on your way — all when it automatically senses that you’re leaving the house.

Finally, you can now have music stop automatically after a certain period of time (which is good news for those of you who like to fall asleep to the sound of white noise), and you can also add or subtract time from timers while they’re ongoing, rather than having to cancel and reset them.

Alexa’s latest updates will be available to users in the US in the coming days. Be sure to keep your phone’s Alexa app updated if you want to make full use of its latest functionality.