Amazon has updated its Alexa voice assistant so that you can now ask it to speak at different speeds. Available to the Alexa software on any device, not just the Amazon Echo smart speakers,  all you have to do is ask.

Say “Alexa, speaker slower” or, you guessed it, “Alexa, speaker faster” and Alexa on that device will remember next time. Amazon said that from Alexa’s usual talking speed it now has two slower and four faster modes that you can stretch it to. You can also command, “Alexa, speak at your default rate”.

Amazon said that customer feedback had prompted the change with people hard of hearing and the elderly saying they’d benefit from slower diction. “On the other hand, some of our customers who are blind or low vision are used to consuming audio content and want to be able to listen more quickly,” said Sarah Caplener, Head of Alexa for Everyone.

Feedback has been good from charities too, with David Clarke, Director of Services, RNIB commenting: “Many blind and partially sighted people have told us they’d like the option of increasing the speech speed so we expect this development will be warmly welcomed.  We are really pleased to continue to support Amazon in their efforts to create a device which is truly accessible for everyone.”

The feature is like the option some podcast and audiobook apps give that increase or decrease the speed of audio files. Many people like listening to audio sped up to consume it faster.

This Alexa update will only affect Alexa’s voice though, so it won’t speed up all audio. Give it a try on your Echo or Alexa app to see if it could benefit you or someone in your family.