Amazon has quietly began rolling out a brand new masculine-sounding voice choice to its Alexa digital assistant together with a equally masculine-sounding wake phrase to set off the assistant: “Ziggy.” (The odd selection of title is presumably to suit into Amazon’s love of “A to Z”-style branding.)
The brand new voice choice was truly added a number of days in the past alongside an announcement for brand spanking new superstar voices like Shaq and Melissa McCarthy, however it went largely unnoticed till it was noticed by The Ambient. You may hear a pattern of the brand new voice choice right here.
The “Ziggy” wake phrase joins the prevailing “Alexa,” “Laptop,” “Echo,” and “Amazon” wake phrases which have already been obtainable to make use of with Alexa for years. Amazon isn’t particularly associating “Alexa” with the feminine-sounding voice and “Ziggy” with the brand new masculine-sounding choice; customers can use both of the voice choices with any of the wake phrases.
You may swap between the 2 voice choices — which Amazon refers to as “Authentic” and “New” — by asking Alexa to “Change your voice,” and you may equally choose a brand new wake phrase by asking it to “Change your wake phrase.” The change appears to be device-specific, although, so that you’ll need to set the brand new voice on every of your Alexa gadgets.
Amazon has been a holdout with regards to providing a masculine-sounding voice choice for its digital assistant; Apple and Google provide a number of voice choices for Siri and Google Assistant, respectively. Neither of these corporations associates particular voices with gender anymore, both: Apple’s Siri choices are introduced as “Voice 1” and “Voice 2,” whereas Google’s voice choices are listed below quite a lot of colours.
Amazon has solely supplied its feminine-sounding choice because the Echo was first launched again in 2013. And whereas The New York Occasions notes that Alexa will reply to questions on gender by replying “I’m not a girl or a person, I’m an AI,” Amazon itself nonetheless tends to check with the Alexa character utilizing gendered “she” and “her” pronouns in its documentation.
That’s regardless of that very same documentation emphasizing that Alexa will not be “an individual with a bodily physique or a gender identification” and that “Amazon doesn’t let organizations (for instance, abilities or AVS) check with Alexa as ‘she’ or ‘her.’”
The brand new masculine-sounding Alexa voice choice is reportedly solely obtainable within the US for now, however it would presumably be making its technique to different areas quickly.