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Amazon makes Alexa 'desi' with support for Hinglish

Amazon Alexa can now respond to your Hinglish questions such as 'What is your good name?'

  • Published: November 1, 2017 10:26 AM IST
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Amazon has launched its smart speaker range in India, and evidently, there needs to be some form of localization to help us relate to the US-born hardware. Amazon Alexa, which is like Siri for Amazon Echo speakers, boasts 10,000 skills available for the Indian market, and now, the company has added one key feature to the speaker range – the ability to understand and respond in Hinglish.

If you buy an Amazon Echo home speaker, you will no longer have to roll your tongue specifically to ask Alexa questions. A team of linguists, speech scientists, developers, and engineers have given a ‘Desi’ touch to the voice-based assistant to make it sound more Indian. According to Bloomberg, Alexa knows that Independence Day for Indians is on August 15, she also wishes “Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year!”, refers to a living room as a drawing room, and can help you add ‘jeera’ and ‘haldi’ to your shopping list. ALSO READ: Ahead of Echo, Amazon Alexa app for Android, iOS launched in India

“We wanted our devices to talk, walk and feel Indian,” Parag Gupta, head of product management for Amazon Devices in India is quoted as saying. “Alexa is not a visiting American, she has a very Indian personality,” he added.

Technology companies are aggressively pushing their products into the Indian market with localization at is core. Not only Amazon, Apple is also looking at ways to make Siri adapt to the Indian English. The latest iOS 11 also comes pre-loaded with a feature that lets you set Siri’s keyboard to Hinglish. With the ability to understand Hinglish (a blend of Hindi and English), audience reachability is expanded. A user does not need to learn the ‘correct way’ of pronouncing words and phrases which the assistant can decipher.

Other than Amazon and Apple, Google is also known for hyper-localizing its products to suit the Indian requirements. The company introduced Hinglish-speaking Google Assistant that powers its messaging app Allo. ALSO READ: Amazon Alexa can now whisper, bleep, change its pitch

As for Alexa, Amazon has worked with third-party developers to develop the extensions for the digital assistant. From booking cabs, to recommending movies, to suggesting local recipes, Alexa in India is more skilled than its US debut three years ago with just 13 skills. Alexa has been incorporated with Indian intonations, pauses, and even local humor in its Echo devices. It can respond to Hinglish questions such as, “What is your good name?”, fetch music from Bollywood movies, and recount stories from the ancient Panchatantra children’s fables.

The first set of Alexa-powered devices in India includes the Amazon Echo, priced at Rs 9,999, Amazon Echo Plus, priced at Rs 14,999, and Amazon Echo Dot, priced at Rs 4,499. The devices are scheduled to start shipping starting this week. ALSO READ: Google Assistant to take over Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung Bixby by 2021: Report

  • Published Date: November 1, 2017 10:26 AM IST