Ahead of Apple's HomePod launch, Amazon teases new voices for Alexa

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2018
With days to go before the launch of Apple's Siri-powered HomePod smart speaker, Amazon will unveil changes to its own personal assistant, Alexa, likely to come in the form of new voice options.




In a teaser for an ad set to debut during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Amazon has released a 30-second ad in which Alexa "loses her voice." As word of the situation spreads, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos consults with staff to find a solution.

"Alexa lost her voice. How is that even possible?" Bezos asks.

An employee tells Bezos that the company has "replacements," plural, available to restore Alexa's voice. When Bezos inquires whether the fix will work, the employee gives an unreassuring nod, leaving Bezos with a look of concern on his face.





The spot ends with the date of Feb. 4, which is when Super Bowl LI will take place between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. Amazon presumably will unveil new voices for Alexa in a spot during the big game.

Just a few days after the Super Bowl, on Feb. 9, Apple will launch HomePod, a premium, music-focused speaker that also integrates its own voice-driven assistant, Siri. HomePod has drawn inevitable comparisons to Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo lineup, though Apple's offering is more focused on high quality audio playback.
zroger73
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,335member
    Oh, you mean just like Siri?
    jbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 33
    I'm hoping for a male voice.

    But, it'd be weird calling a dude "Alexa". (I know it can also be "computer", "Echo", or "Amazon", but it'd take me forever to get used to a new name for an existing device. It would be like changing my dog's name.)

    But, it's 2018, so maybe not.
    edited January 2018 tokyojimu
  • Reply 3 of 33
    zroger73 said:
    I'm hoping for a male voice.

    But, it'd be weird calling a dude "Alexa". (I know it can also be "computer", "Echo", or "Amazon", but it'd take me forever to get used to a new name for an existing device. It would be like changing my dog's name.)

    But, it's 2018, so maybe not.
    People still use Siri with a male voice. Maybe you can say "Alexi". That's close enough that it might trigger it. LOL
    zroger73watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 33
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,814member
    Now this ad I think is poor. It portrays Alexa as faulty and Amazon as incompetent. I doubt that the Alexa voice will be going away so this Alexa lost her voice so we need to use backups is presents poorly, and if the current Alexa voice does get removed (let's assume it's for a valid reason) then it just creates a shock for the customer when you need to pull a Steve Jobs by telling the customer that removing something they believe they prefer or rely on is in their best interest.
    philboogiewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 33
    Alexa with a new coat of paint (voices) and Sonos offering a pair of Ones for the same price as a HomePod.

    All this tells me is the competition is worried.
    macky the mackytmaymdriftmeyerkozchriswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 33
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,063member
    Is it me, or is Jeff Bezos slowly transforming into Dr Evil? Hmmm. /s
    zroger73GG1patchythepirateviclauyyccoolfactorjbdragonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 33
    Kind of like Siri? :D
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 33
    Bezos looks like he's CGI.
    coolfactorSpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 33
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,593member
    dewme said:
    Is it me, or is Jeff Bezos slowly transforming into Dr Evil? Hmmm. /s
    I was just thinking he looks like a Bond villain. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 33
    Seems like an expensive ad campaign if the only feature update/improvement being offered is new voices.
    JFC_PAwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 33
    I trust Apple implicitly more than companies like Amazon and Google but I just can't understand how so many people show so little thought or concern with installing always listening devices in their homes. Willingly and eagerly paying to subjugate themselves.  Is this fiction? Insanity. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 33
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,814member
    I trust Apple implicitly more than companies like Amazon and Google but I just can't understand how so many people show so little thought or concern with installing always listening devices in their homes. Willingly and eagerly paying to subjugate themselves.  Is this fiction? Insanity. 
    That's a shortsighted concern because you have to assume that listening for a wake word also means they're recording and transmitting everything you're saying, not just valid queries after being triggered by the wake word. If you're going to assume that level of paranoia then you should also assume that these companies can and are enabling microphones on all the other devices they sell so they can record what you're saying even without making a request. Devices that are in your home, your car, your workspace, and on your person all have microphones—you're not going to escape it.

    Even if, say, Apple is completely trustworthy, they aren't infallible so any of their devices always have the potential to be hacked without your knowledge. I accept that risk, and update security when it's possible because the benefit far outweighs the risk that someone is listening to me talk about technology, and if these companies or a hacker really waned data listening on the microphone isn't usually a bigger threat over all the personal data we keep on our devices. Then there's the cameras. I see people commonly cover up their laptop camera, but I don't see anyone covering up their smartphone camera which is in their face a lot more often as well as pointing in the direction of their eye-line.

    PS: Do you remove audio drivers that enable the microphones on your Mac? If not, why not since those aren't just in your home, but often with you when you're not home, and desktop OSes are typically much easier to gain access too due to the lack of a walled garden for application installs.
    edited January 2018
  • Reply 13 of 33
    Ima wondering what will happen in all the home that has Alexa listening in the background when this commercial comes on the TV... 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 33
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,732member
    Alexa with a new coat of paint (voices) and Sonos offering a pair of Ones for the same price as a HomePod.

    All this tells me is the competition is worried.
    I think it’s funny.   Apple should be concerned.
    I guess we will see an Amazon commercial during the Super Bowl.  Will there be a HomePod??   Will it be funny?
  • Reply 15 of 33
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,814member
    Ima wondering what will happen in all the home that has Alexa listening in the background when this commercial comes on the TV... 
    It's usually triggered.

    In the following ad "Alexa" is mentioned twice, but my Echo Plus only pics up the second Alexa (that is from 2 attempts on both my MBP and TV via Airplay for a total of 4 tries with the exact same results) but even though Alexa heard its name on the second attempt it didn't play "My Girl."



    I wonder if they do something with the audio that our ears don't pick up but make it harder for the mics to pick up. I'll see if I can find some regular YouTube uploader saying the word in a review.


    edit: I only checked user's video review but Alexa answered as I'd expect it to without any issues.



    edited January 2018
  • Reply 16 of 33
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,063member
    I trust Apple implicitly more than companies like Amazon and Google but I just can't understand how so many people show so little thought or concern with installing always listening devices in their homes. Willingly and eagerly paying to subjugate themselves.  Is this fiction? Insanity. 
    As long as Alexa doesn't suddenly make a demand for "one million dollars" for the safe return of a stolen Kreplachistan warhead, I'm okay with it.
  • Reply 17 of 33
    larryalarrya Posts: 547member
    Will HomePod stream from an iTunes music library on the local network?  I just got an Alexa as a gift and was disappointed to learn it cannot play a local library to a Sonos speaker.  So, while I can install media servers and have Alexa play local music on its own speaker, and it can play rented music to Sonos speakers, it cannot play local music to Sonos spekars.  This really reminds me of Android, where I could never get all the features I wanted in the same launcher.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 33
    BTW, this year's Super Bowl is LII (i.e. 52 for non-Romans).
  • Reply 19 of 33
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,814member
    larrya said:
    Will HomePod stream from an iTunes music library on the local network?
    Nope. You can use iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library, but there's no Home Sharing option. :disappointed: 

    edited January 2018
  • Reply 20 of 33
    larryalarrya Posts: 547member
    Soli said:
    larrya said:
    Will HomePod stream from an iTunes music library on the local network?
    Nope. You can use iTunes Match and iTunes in Cloud, but there's no Home Sharing option.
    Thanks, Soli. I’m a little dismayed that no one supports this, but I guess the future is streaming.  People who love high quality sound, and music in general, also tend to support local musicians, who won’t be available on streaming services. 
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