Saturday Night Live this week provided a sneak peek at an Amazon Echo "for people of a certain age."
The sketch (below) advertises the Amazon Echo Silver, "the only smart speaker device to be used specifically by the greatest generation." The wood-grain speaker, with a gold accents and accompanying stand, is "super loud and responds to any name even remotely close to Alexa."
The faux spot opens with an elderly Kenan Thompson yelling at his regular Echo: "Alyssa, what time is it?" he asks before trying "Amanda!" and "Odessa!" Unlike the real Echo, the Silver can have patient back-and-forth conversations with seniors, who are not quite sure of her responses. And don't forget the "uh huh" feature for Echo owners who like to ramble.
The SNL sketch comes shortly after Amazon rolled out Alexa Calling, which lets you use the smart speaker to place calls or send messages. It's a natural progression for the device, but there's one minor problem: Alexa Calling does not currently let you block certain contacts.
As Elise Oras outlined in a Medium post, activating Alexa Calling requires you to give the Alexa app permission to access you phone's contacts.
"Now, what I expected to happen…is a list of contacts pops up and you pick and choose who to add," Oras writes. "But that's not what happened. Instead, every contact that also has the Alexa app is now in my Alexa Calling contacts. Among my contacts were old landlords, many co-workers, random vendor account managers, city councilmen, and of course, crazy ex-boyfriends. And each one now has a direct line into my home."
Oras tweeted at Amazon, which told her there is not currently a way to block someone on Alexa Calling. To disable the feature, meanwhile, you have to actually call Amazon. The company, however, tells Geekwire that it will add the ability to block callers "in the coming weeks."
If you keep it active, Alexa will announce any incoming calls and the Echo ring will turn green. Say "Answer" to take the call or "Ignore" dismiss it.