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Amazon’s Alexa can now act on its own hunches to turn off lights and more

New updates bring proactive hunches and Guard Plus to the smart assistant

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Amazon is enabling a new feature today that allows Alexa to proactively complete tasks around the house, such as turning off lights, based on your habits and frequent requests.

Alexa has been able to sense these habits and ask about them since 2018 — the company calls them “hunches” — but before this update, Alexa would ask permission before acting on something like lowering the thermostat before you went to bed. If the new proactive hunches are enabled, though, Alexa will skip asking for permission for a task and just do it.

While proactive hunches seem like they could make Alexa a lot more useful, having granular controls over what Alexa can automatically act on will be important. Amazon says that these automatic actions have to be turned on from the Alexa app and that you can toggle automatic actions on and off for each compatible product that Alexa has a hunch about.

Along with new Alexa abilities, Amazon is also rolling out its Guard Plus security subscription service. The service can alert you if Alexa picks up on certain types of sounds in your home and offers access to human agents who can call emergency services on your behalf, similar to ADT. You can sign up for Guard Plus on Amazon’s landing page for the service, and it will cost $4.99 per month.

Amazon is also rolling out an energy dashboard to the Alexa app that can monitor and estimate how much power compatible devices connected to Alexa use if their manufacturers support it. This can include anything from TVs to water heaters, and Amazon has a whole list of compatible products on its site about the new dashboard.

The new energy dashboard in the Alexa app.
Image: Amazon

Amazon says all three features should start rolling out in the US today.

Update January 26th, 12:08AM ET: Added more details from Amazon about proactive hunches.

Correction: A previous version of this article said you could sign up for Guard Plus through the Alexa app. In fact, users need to sign up through Amazon’s website.