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Smart Home

Tell the family 'dinner's ready' with Alexa Announcements

Rolling out to customers in the US and Canada today, the new feature lets you send a short voice message to every Echo device under your roof with a single voice command.

"Dinner's ready!" is about as common an exclamation as you'll hear in the average family household. Now, families that use Alexa devices won't need to shout, because a new "Announcements" feature will let you ask Alexa to spread the word to every Echo device under your roof.

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Alexa's newest feature lets you make an announcement to every Echo device under your roof.

Ian Knighton/CNET

The pitch is simple -- just start a command with "Alexa, announce that," "Alexa, tell everyone" or "Alexa, broadcast," then tack on your message. Say "Alexa, tell everyone dinner's ready," and everyone in your home within earshot of an Echo device will hear you say "dinner's ready."

Of course, that's all entirely dependent on having multiple Echo devices in the first place. To that end, the feature marks Amazon's latest effort to tempt users into installing Alexa into every room of the house.

If Alexa's Announcements feature sounds at all familiar, it's because Google debuted the same functionality for the Google Home line of smart speakers this past November. Chalk it up to the intriguing back-and-forth battle between the two tech titans, each working to build the most helpful home assistant (and win the most customers).

The Announcements feature is rolling out to Alexa users in the US and Canada starting today, and will be available across Amazon's entire lineup of Echo smart speakers.

"We're working on third-party," an Amazon spokesperson tells CNET of the many Alexa devices not made by Amazon. "We aim for a consistent customer experience across all Alexa devices and it takes some time to bring software and features to third-party developers."

Amazon also tells CNET that you'll be able to send an announcement from the Alexa app on your iOS or Android device, or from an Alexa-enabled tablet like the Fire HD 8. Only Echo devices can receive announcements, though.

That's true of Google's version of the feature, too. You can send a broadcast from Google Assistant-equipped mobile devices, but you can only send a broadcast to Google Home smart speakers, as well as third-party Google Assistant devices, like the JBL Link 300.

Editor's Note (4/6/18, 10:00 AM EST): Updated to clarify that Google broadcasts can only be sent from Google Assistant-enabled mobile devices, and not to them.