Amazon's Alexa finally gets a male voice option. Amazon has quietly rolled out its new Alexa virtual assistant named Ziggy.
Last week, the new male voice option was added alongside the announcement for new celebrity voices like Hollywood actress Melissa McCarthy and NBA legend Shaquille O'Neil.
Amazon Alexa New Voice Assistant
The Ambient was the first publication that noticed the rollout of Ziggy. The name Ziggy joins the growing list of wake words that Amazon has released, including Alexa, Computer, and Echo.
Amazon's Alexa is not specifically assigned with the feminine-sounding voice and Ziggy with the masculine-sounding voice. Users choose either of the voice options, and they can also select the wake words.
Users can switch between the two voice options, which Amazon labeled as the "Original" and "New." Users can ask Alexa to change its voice, and they can select a new wake word by asking it to change the wake word.
The change is device-specific, so users will have to set the new voice on each of their Alexa devices.
Amazon had taken a while before it offered a masculine-sounding voice option for its digital assistant. Google and Apple already have multiple voice options for Google Assistant and Siri.
Neither of the tech companies associates specific voices with gender anymore. Apple's Siri options are labeled as Voice 1 and Voice 2, while Google Assistant listed the options under colors.
Amazon's feminine-sounding option was offered in 2013, the same year that Echo was launched. According to The New York Times, Alexa will respond to questions about gender by replying "I'm an AI" or "I'm not a woman or a man." The company itself still tends to refer to Alexa as "she" or "her" in its documentation.
Even though the documentation emphasizes that Alexa is not a person with a body or a gender identity and that Amazon does not let organizations refer to Alexa as "she" or "her."
Ziggy is reportedly only available in the United States for now, but it is possible that it will be rolled out to other regions soon.
Amazon's Alexa to Branch Out
Aside from releasing new voice commands, Amazon has announced that it partnered up with Matter, a cross-platform open-source standard. This will allow better communication between smart devices, according to CNET.
Amazon will be upgrading its Echo smart speakers to support Matter, including its Echo Dot, Echo Studio, Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Flex speakers.
According to The Verge, the only Echo smart speaker that won't get upgraded to Matter are the first-gen Echo, first-gen Echo Dot, and Echo Tap.
The announcement is a part of Amazon's Alexa Live developer event on July 21, where the company stated that they would soon be rolling out tools that make it easy for uses to build Matter certified devices.
While the tech company did give a specific timeline for the upgrades, the general idea is that Matter will launch by late 2021. This means that Amazon devices should receive the capability in the next couple of weeks.
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Written by Sophie Webster