Amazon held an event Wednesday announcing several new features for its products

By Ashley Boucher
September 25, 2019 11:01 PM
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Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Alexa: update!

New features are coming Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, including a new, more natural-sounding voice and celebrity voice options, starting with Samuel L. Jackson.

At an event in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday, the company announced several new features and products that Alexa users will be able to access, according to CNN.

One of the first new features includes celebrity voices to read you the news, tell you the weather and answer questions, like, “Alexa, ask Samuel L. Jackson where he is from,” according to Amazon’s description.

Users will also be able to choose between explicit and non-explicit versions, and using Jackson’s voice will cost users $0.99 if purchased in 2019, but will jump to $4.99 in 2020.

Alexa’s regular voice is also getting a makeover, The Verge reported. According to the tech site, Alexa’s voice will sound more natural and is “based on neural text-to-speech software that relies on deep learning techniques to make Alexa sound more like a real human being.”

The outlet also reported that the technology “allows Amazon to mimic real human voices” — meaning that if you opt in to the version using the Pulp Fiction star, his voice won’t be coming from real recordings. Amazon is reportedly expected to release more celebrity voices next year, too.

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Bilingual users will also have an easier time using the virtual assistant, as Alexa will be offering a new multilingual mode, according to The Verge.

And if you’re an Alexa user who finds yourself getting annoyed when the A.I. mishears you, there’ll be a new mode for that, too, called “frustration detection.” The Verge says that the new feature will try to apologize after detecting frustration when Alexa responds with the wrong answer or task.

Several more products are coming down the Amazon pipeline, including Alexa-enabled smart clocks, ovens, speakers, ear buds and glasses.