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Amazon is killing one of Alexa’s most useful features

Updated 1 year ago
Published Nov 11th, 2021 3:30AM EST
Echo
Image: Amazon

Amazon’s Alexa is an incredibly capable virtual assistant. In fact, it has such a wide range of features that there’s a good chance you aren’t fully aware of what all Alexa can do. For example, did you know that Alexa can access your email? You can link your email account to Alexa and have it read messages out loud. Except Amazon has retired the feature. Since Monday, November 8th, Amazon has unlinked all email accounts from Alexa.

Amazon Alexa loses access to email accounts

As noted by TechHive, users on Reddit and Twitter received emails informing them of the change.

“We’re writing to inform you that beginning on November 8th, 2021, email access will no longer be supported for Alexa customers,” Amazon explained to customers in an email blast. “This means you will no longer be able to link your Gmail or Microsoft email account with Alexa to browse or manage your email, and any linked email account(s) will automatically be unlinked.”

The email goes on to note that “related email features” are impacted as well. This includes email routines and email notifications. Also, Alexa can’t track third-party packages. Previously, with access to your email, Alexa could scan your inbox for shipment notifications. On the other hand, you can still be able to track any Amazon orders you place. If you ask your device “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” to find out when Amazon packages are expected to arrive. So if you order most of your stuff through Amazon, you’re in the clear.

Amazon first rolled out the email-reading feature back in 2018. After linking an email account, users could read, delete, archive, and reply to messages with voice commands. Going forward, anyone who was using this feature is going to have to go back to using phones and computers. The good news is that you can still link your calendar to Alexa.

Why has Amazon removed this feature?

Here’s what Amazon told TechHive about the decision to remove Alexa’s access to email accounts:

We regularly evaluate the features and experiences available to customers and prioritize those that make customers’ lives easier and allow them to get the most of our their Alexa experience. As with everything we do, we will continue to evolve the experience based on customer feedback.

In all likelihood, you had never used this feature in the first place. There are certainly use cases — one Redditor said their elderly mother found the feature helpful — but Amazon wouldn’t kill a widely-used feature. Unsurprisingly, many people didn’t know the feature existed. Others questioned why anyone would willingly give Amazon access to their email accounts in the first place.

New Alexa features

Amazon might have removed this one feature, but it has also added several nifty new Alexa skills. The company’s recently-released Alexa October update adds several new capabilities to the popular voice assistant. You can read about all the new Alexa features on Amazon’s site, and here’s a quick rundown of the new features:

  • Easily move music, podcasts, and more from one speaker or room to another
  • Move music from an Echo speaker in your home to your Alexa-enabled headphones when you leave the house
  • Move audio from one speaker group to another
  • A new “Two-Minute Drill” feature gives you pre-game analyses of your favorite NFL matchups each week
  • “Alexa, Play Something on Netflix” command finds movies and shows to stream to your Fire TV devices
  • You can now open the TikTok TV app on Fire TV devices in the US with an Alexa command
  • “Alexa, what are my deals?” lets you check out early Black Friday deals at Amazon
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.