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.
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.
Developers making voice apps for Amazons Alexa can now use different voices to power their experiences. The voices are being provided for free through the AWS text-to-speech service Polly. Created in 2016 with the same conversational AI that powers Alexa, Polly can speak in nearly 50 voices in 24 languages, but at its start, only eight Polly voices synthesized to sound more human are being made available in developer preview for English-speaking Alexa skills in the United States. Prior to the introduction of voices from Polly, developers were able to change a voice in a skill experience with the use of pre-recorded MP3 files. Skills developers will be able to add Polly voices using Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML). First introduced for Alexa last year, SSML is a set of tags that can be added when constructing an Alexa skill for human-sounding expressions like Boom! and Bada Bing, noises like sighs and expletive beeps, and the ability to lower Alexas voice to a whisper. The ability to use different voices is the latest feature extended to Alexa developers. In-skill purchases opened for Alexa developers in the U.S. earlier this month. The news comes a week after Google gave its Assistant six new voices, plans for an Assistant voice with singer John Legend, and the debut of Duplex, AI that uses WaveNet speech synthesis to generate a human-sounding voice that makes reservations or schedules appointments over the phone. No word yet on when Alexa will get more voice options or the ability to give users the choice to speak with a male or female voice.
Now Alexas voice apps dont have to sound like Alexa. Amazon today is offering a way for developers to give their voice apps a unique character with the launch of eight free voices to use in skills, courtesy of the Amazon Polly service. The voices are only available in U.S. English, and include a mix of both male and female, according to Amazon Pollys website. Amazon Polly was first introduced at Amazons re:Invent developer event in November 2016, and has been steadily ramping up its capabilities in the time since. The text-to-speech service today is capable of things like whispering, speech marks, using a timbre effect, and dynamic range compression – all which make the voices sound more natural. While the speech engine today supports a couple dozen languages, only the U.S. English voices are being offered to Alexa developers at this time. But their addition could make some of Alexas skills more engaging – especially those involving different characters, like an adventure story or game, for example. Developers today may already be using multiple voices in their skills, but the process of doing so is more cumbersome and rigid, as with mp3 file uploads. To use an Amazon Polly voice instead, developers would use Structured Speech Markup Language (SSML) and then specify which voice they want with the voice name tag. This makes it easier to adjust what is said, as developers could just change the text instead of having to re-record an mp3. Amazon has been working to make Polly more accessible to a wider audience, recently by offering a WordPress plugin that could turn your posts into podcasts. The new Alexa skills integration, meanwhile, gives Polly another avenue of reaching consumers. Its also another means of competing with Alexas rival, Google Assistant. At Googles developer conference last week, the company announced six new voices generated by Wavenet, including one from singer John Legend. These will roll out later this year, and presumably, could make their way to the Assistant developer ecosystem as well.