Alexa Software Enhancements

As the dust settles on the new Echo devices announced yesterday see this topic, Amazon also announced big changes to Alexa beyond hardware, which deserve their own topic.

  • neural text-to-speech mode to make Alexa sound more humanly.
  • alternative Alexa voices
  • multilingual mode
  • frustration detection mode
  • low batteries announcements
  • new Alexa Guard “skill” (person detection)
  • Alexa Guard integration with Routines

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A couple of these features deserve a specific callout , I think:

Alexa can now try to tell you if it thinks something is wrong with a smart home device, like if a lock is low on batteries or a printer low on ink. Amazon will also start suggesting Alexa routinesthrough Hunches based on actions you do repeatedly, like setting your alarm and asking for the weather every morning. Alexa Guard’s security features will also work in routines.

Also new: an Alexa Guest Connect feature, which allows for guests in your home (or say, renting an AirBnb) to connect to your Alexa with their own Amazon account, so it can access their Alexa content (like their music or shopping lists).

Amazon is also adding new commands for troubleshooting weird Alexa behavior: starting today, you’ll be able to ask Alexa to “tell me what you heard” to have Alexa read back your last command (or what Alexa heard your last command as). And later this year, you’ll be able to ask “why did you do that?” to better figure out what caused anything odd.

Some of these will take some time (“months or years”) to roll out. Others will be available in October in the US, although may not be available in all other regions.

This one is also interesting:

There’s also a new multilingual mode, designed for bilingual households to allow customers to talk to Alexa in either language they use. It’ll start rolling out in the US with Spanish and English, in Canada with French and English, and India with Hindi and English next month.

@danielccm

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The human activity detection is an interesting twist. I am sure this feature release falls in the “years” away category lol

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Of all the enhancements announced, the one I am most looking forward to is Samuel L. Jackson’s voice.

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Ummmm, that really blows. Who wants Alexa to ask Sam. Just try to say this fast: “Alexa, ask Samuel L. Jackson to turn the light off.” LOL His facial expression is perfect for this skill…

image

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