What is old is now new again as Amazon is rolling out Alexa’s Conversation Mode to the second generation of Echo Show 8 smart displays.
If Conversation Mode sounds familiar to you, that’s because it first appeared on the third generation of Echo Show 10 smart displays back in December 2021. And by all accounts, this version of the feature is identical to the older one. Amazon is essentially making this emerging tech more available to its users. What it does is allow you to give commands to Alexa without having to constantly say its wake word. The result is more natural-sounding conversations with Alexa.
How it works
To activate the mode, you first say the device’s wake word (by default it’s “Alexa”) and then you can say either “turn on Conversation Mode” or “join the conversation.” Now everyone in the room can give the Echo Show 8 commands just by speaking to it like telling it to add items to a grocery list. And you’ll know the mode has been activated if you see a solid blue border around the Show 8’s screen.
Images and videos will not be recorded or sent to Amazon’s cloud, according to the announcement. The only thing recorded is direct requests and those can be deleted by going to Review Voice History under the Alexa Privacy Settings.
To have Conversation Mode work, the Echo Show 8 cannot be muted, you must be within the view of the Echo Show 8’s camera, and you must look at it when you give it commands. Doing this will be a little more tricky on the Echo Show 8. The Echo Show 10's screen can rotate on a swivel as it follows you around the room so it can accurately listen to you at all times. The Show 8, by contrast, is a more static device as it simply sits on your counter.
So you might have to turn it by hand to ensure the Show's camera can see you. But with that stiffer design comes affordability as the Echo Show 8 is cheaper ($129.99) than the Show 10 ($249.99).
Unfortunately, it does appear that the Echo Show 8’s version of Conversation Mode is just as limited in language support. According to Amazon Customer Service, the feature is only available in English and it’s unknown if it’ll support other languages. Also vague is the feature’s availability around the world. Conversation Mode on the Echo Show 10 is only available to the United States at the time of this writing. By that logic, if the Show 8 only supports English, it's entirely possible the new mode is stuck in the US.
We reached out to Amazon to ask if there are plans to expand Conversation Mode beyond the US and if there are any new software changes not mentioned in the announcement. This story will be updated if we hear back.
It may also interest you to know that Amazon is holding a pre-Black Friday sale from October 11 to the 12th. Amazon promised that Alexa-enabled devices will have “additional savings attached” during those days.
We can’t help but feel it’s more than a coincidence the Echo Show 8 got Conversation Mode a few weeks before the event. It could be a part of a new product push. If you’re in the market for an Amazon device before the big event, be sure to check out TechRadar's coverage of the new Amazon Fire 8 tablet line.