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.
On Wednesday, Amazon unveiled a preview allowing developers to use eight Amazon Polly US English voices for their Alexa skills for free, to make the skills more engaging. Adding new voices into a skill can make it more interesting for customers to use, according to an Amazon blog post. Developers may want to use the preview to give different voices to characters in games and stories, for example. Amazon Polly is a text-to-speech service that uses advanced deep learning technologies to synthesize speech that sounds like a natural human voice, according to the post. This allows developers to create speech-enabled products, and apps that talk to users. With voice becoming a more popular input, businesses can use Polly to differentiate their offerings on Alexa. Amazon Polly can also be used even if you already use multiple voices in your skill through .mp3 files or other techniques, the post noted, as Polly offers more natural-sounding voices and is easy to maintain. For developers with skills that use only one voice, changing it or adding another in the right place may offer a more engaging experience for customers, according to the 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," the post stated. "It's as easy as that. You can even use an Amazon Polly voice for every utterance in your skill if you like. " Developers can apply for the preview today by filling out a survey with ideas for using Amazon Polly voices in your skill. Amazon will provide more information to those who are selected. Those who are not chosen for the preview will still receive information on using Amazon Polly voices in Alexa skills when it is available. Creating engaging skills can pay off: Developers can make money through Alexa skills using in-skill purchasing or Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills, the post noted. Skills that drive high customer engagement can also lead to a payday for developers through Alexa Developer Rewards. To learn more about how to become an Alexa developer, click here.