Amazon just announced that Alexa will be getting eight new voices. The move comes thanks to Amazon Polly text-to-search service, which the company is opening to developers as a part of the preview program. Before this, developers were only able to add voices to their skills by uploading an MP3 file or by creating a custom audio track, which was quite painstaking. The accessibility of Amazon Polly will help them avoid this trouble.
Amazon Polly will allow developers to integrate these voices into their Alexa skills and help make them more engaging. All the voices are said to be in U.S. English and carry a more natural tonality, compared to the original Amazon Alexa voice. Developers can also use multiple voices in a single skill. For example, a game that features multiple hosts or a joke, where there are two people talking.
By doing this, Amazon is clearly trying to compete with Google Assistant. Just last week, at their I/O Developer Conference, Google announced six new voices for the Assistant, one of which belongs to the popular American singer, John Legend. Google also announced the Duplex, which is its AI chatbot that can make calls in a natural-sounding voice.
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How natural the new Amazon Alexa voices will sound, remains to be seen. But it looks like both Amazon and Google are focusing hard on making their assistants sound more life-like, which seems to be the next obvious step with the technology.