Following a glut of reports concerning Alexa randomly emitting maniacal laughter, users are probably relieved that Amazon has addressed another, albeit less creepy issue regarding the popular Echo and Echo Dot home assistants. It may seem minor, but a new setting in the Alexa app allows you to stop repeatedly saying "Alexa," before every command, making communication with your AI-powered gadget more like a real conversation between actual humans.
CNET reports on the new feature, called Follow-Up Mode, that when enabled lets Alexa listen to a string of commands for five seconds intervals. The feature is indicated by a blue ring that lights up around your home assistant's body. You have time to ask Alexa follow-up questions without addressing the device by name while the blue circle stays illuminated. Once the blue circle goes away, you'll have to say "Alexa" again, but this should seem like a minor inconvenience, compared to repeatedly summoning your device with the same rote, verbal command every time.
You'll have to make sure to speak clearly, of course, as Amazon says that Alexa is trying hard to parse the sound waves in your home, meaning background noise could pose a problem. Apparently, the only way to stop Follow-Up Mode is to say "thank you" or "stop," meaning Alexa could theoretically await your beck and call for much longer if you don't directly curtail the situation.
Of course, don't expect this to ward off the possibility of your device freaking out when you ask it about the CIA, or again, laughing hysterically for no reason.