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Amazon gives Alexa a new iOS widget and the ability to assign reminders

Order your family around, in advance

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Amazon has updated the Alexa app on iOS so that you can access the voice assistant right from your home screen via a new widget. Everyone can use the assistant to remind specific members of your household to do tasks through a new “assign reminders” skill.

Due to the somewhat restrictive nature of the widgets on iOS, the new Ask Alexa widget isn’t so much Alexa itself as it is a link directly to the iOS app. But if you have the Alexa widget placed on any of your screens and you’ve already given the Alexa app permission to use your iPhone’s mic, you’ll be able to start making requests with a tap.

The Ask Alexa widget in iOS.

And now those requests can get a bit more granular. Amazon’s given Alexa the ability to assign reminders to specific members of your household if they have an Alexa Profile set up on the same Amazon account. So if you say “Alexa, remind Jeff to take the lasagna out of the freezer at 10AM,” Alexa will be able to deliver the reminder to the right person, at the right time, provided they’re logged in to their Alexa app.

You can create an Alexa Profile (up to 10 per Amazon account) each time someone new logs in to the Alexa app for the first time. Amazon says you can assign relationship nicknames to each profile, like mom, dad, daughter, etc. Additional Voice Profiles can also be added in Settings, so Alexa can recognize who’s speaking and making reminders based on their voice.

Alexa picks up new features and skills on a monthly basis, but Amazon also announced plans in June to open up Alexa even further to third-party developers. Among many new APIs, developers will be able to create custom widgets for the Echo Show.

Update August 6th, 7:00PM ET: Added information from Amazon on creating Alexa Profiles.