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.
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.