Q: Help! Amazon has ditched Alexa email!
A: My mother relied on an Echo Dot/Alexa to read her gmail. Amazon just announced this feature will no longer be available. I'm desperate to find an alternative. She can't manipulate an iPhone. Can your product help her?
“Alexa, read my email.” no longer works.
Speaking Email is a great alternative to replace the discontinued Amazon Alexa email. Speaking Email supports Gmail, Microsoft 365, and most other account types.
Amazon gave users just a week's notice they are pulling the service with an email giving no reason but just saying "email access will no longer be supported for Alexa customers".
So what are the differences?
- Both Alexa and Speaking Email do not allow you to interrupt during reading out of an email. In Speaking Email you can tap anywhere on the screen during email reading to interrupt and prompt for a voice command, plus you can configure when to pause for commands. In Alexa the only way to interrupt during reading out of an email was tapping a button in the Alexa app (so you needed to use a smartphone anyway).
- Alexa could not compose new emails for you. She could only reply to received emails in your inbox, and you had to be quick and speak clearly. Speaking Email allows compose, forward, adding recipients, and also allows simple editing of emails before sending.
- Speaking Email has better reading of email content, by skipping signatures and avoiding reading email specific clutter.
- Alexa mail is easy to launch by saying “Alexa, read my email.”. To launch Speaking Email on an iPhone say "Hey Siri, launch Speaking Email". On Android say "Hey Google, launch Speaking Email".
- Apparently Alexa email only let you hear recent email from the last 24 hours, which seems awfuly restrictive. Speaking Email lets you hear the most recent 250 emails in your inbox, and you can also switch folders and play email in other folders.
- Alexa had a feature to check for emails from a specific contact - you would say "Did [contact] send me an email?". To do this in Speaking Email you say "search" then you can say any words to search your recent emails based on sender and/or subject.
After each email, Alexa asks what you want to do. Here are the Alexa commands and equivalent Speaking Email commands:
"Read it." => "play" (or "repeat" when at the end)
"Skip." => "next"
"Delete." => "delete"
"Reply." => "reply"
"Mark as unread." => "unread"
"Flag." => "flag"
"Archive." => "archive"
By default Speaking Email gives you 5 seconds after reading the headers to decide what to do and then defaults to playing the email in full. These defaults can be configured in preferences to either wait indefintely for you to decide, and/or to default to going on to the next email.
Amazon announced the discontinuation with only a week's notice in the following email:
“We’re writing to inform you that beginning on November 8th, 2021, email access will no longer be supported for Alexa customers. 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.”
For a full list of commands, check our cheat sheet:
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