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Amazon’s Alexa gets new voices like Google Assistant (kinda)


Amazon today announced a developer preview for Alexa that brings eight new free voices to Skills. Its not quite the vocal overhaul that Google Assistant is getting, but its a start. Heres the deal: Alexas getting two more voices than Google Assistant, but these wont replace the one youre used to hearing – nor are any of them voiced by John Legend. Are you doing business in Amsterdam in May? The new developer preview allows programmers to integrate voices from Amazons Polly, a text-to-speech platform, into Alexa Skills – add-on utilities which include games, entertainment, and new abilities. It wont change the voice you hear when you say Alexa, what time is it? however, which is a bit of a letdown. Why you should care: This gives developers the ability to use different voices without having to upload MP3 files or create custom audio tracks. And making it easier to add diversity to Skills is good for everyone who uses them. According to a company blog post: Using Amazon Polly, you can choose a different voice for any utterance by using the Structured Speech Markup Language (SSML) and specifying an Amazon Polly voice using the voice name tag. Its as easy as that. You can even use an Amazon Polly voice for every utterance in your skill if you like. If a developer wants to create a Skill where, for example, two characters have a conversation (like a female-sounding voice telling a knock-knock joke to a character with a male-sounding voice) theyll now be able to do so without any additional work. The integration is free. Developers interested in the preview can follow this link for more information. Consumers interested in learning more about Alexa Skills can either visit Amazons page or ask their Alexa device to tell them about Skills. The Next Webs 2018 conference is almost here, and itll be . Find out all about our tracks here.

Alexa skills can talk to you using different voices


You won't have to hear the same voice in every app. Do you wish Alexa would respond to your commands with different voices? You'll get your wish soon. Amazon has released a developer preview that lets Alexa skill developers use a selection of voices from Polly (Amazon's text-to-speech service). An adventure story can give each character a different voice, for instance. Creators could already 'hack' additional voices in through MP3 recordings and similar techniques, but this is decidedly more elegant. The feature currently only allows using eight US English voices (Polly supports roughly two dozen languages), and it should take a while before multi-voice skills arrive. However, the timing couldn't be much better. Google just added six voices to Assistant. While this clearly isn't the same (many skills will just use whatever regional voice you have), it should lead both to some basic variety and voice apps that are considerably more complex.