Amazon rolls out male voice for its smart speakers

Meet Ziggy: Amazon is rolling out a brand new voice for Alexa that will give users a more masculine option over the assistant’s default voice

  • Amazon has quietly rolled out the new voice option for its line of smart speakers
  • It’s only available for users in the US but could arrive globally in the near future 
  • It has also added two more celebrity voices that can emanate from its speakers

Amazon has started to roll out a male version of its smart assistant, called Ziggy, as an alternative to Alexa. 

Users of Amazon smart speakers in the US now have the option to choose from either Alexa or Ziggy when they’re saying a vocal command. 

They can simply say ‘Alexa, change your voice’ to hear the male voice coming out of their speaker, or go to settings in the Alexa app. 

There’s a short snippet of Ziggy’s voice – which has a generic but robotic-sounding American accent – to listen to here.  

Amazon's smart assistant powers the Echo speakers, including the spherical fourth generation Echo released last autumn (pictured)

Amazon’s smart assistant powers the Echo speakers, including the spherical fourth generation Echo released last autumn (pictured)

HOW TO GET THE MALE VOICE 

– On the Alex app, select ‘Device Settings’, ‘Alexa’s Voice’ and then ‘New’.   

– Or you can say ‘Alexa, change your voice’ 

Note that this option is only available for US users for now.  

Amazon’s smart assistants power its line of Echo speakers, including the spherical fourth generation Echo released last autumn.      

The addition of Ziggy’s voice was quietly made by Amazon and first noticed by The Ambient.  

It’s only available for users in the US for now, but will likely be rolled out worldwide ‘with regional twangs’ in the near future, the Ambient claims. 

An Amazon spokesperson wouldn’t reveal anything to MailOnline about Ziggy’s UK availability, however. 

Technically, Amazon has added ‘Ziggy’ as one of its ‘wake words’ – words that users can say before a command to make sure the smart assistant is listening. 

The four other already-existing wake words are Alexa, Computer, Amazon and Echo. 

Also, users can choose between either the male or female voice and use any of the wake words to activate them.

So this means users could potentially start a command with the word ‘Ziggy’ and hear the female voice responding, in a gender bending twist.

Also this month, Amazon introduced two celebrity voices that users can opt to hear coming out of their smart speaker – former basketball player Shaquille O’Neal and actress Melissa McCarthy. 

Users just need to say ‘Hey Shaq’ or ‘Hey Melissa’ to hear a selection of pre-recorded messages – although they don’t offer the same range of responses as the automated voices. 

Users have already been able to hear the distinctive tones of actor Samuel L. Jackson – known for his memorable dialogue in films like Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane – simply by saying ‘Hey Samuel’.  

Alexa – or whatever name you want to give the smart assistant – has also been equipped with facts about the Olympic Games, Amazon also revealed this week, which officially commenced on Friday in Tokyo. 

Users of Alexa-enabled devices can ask the smart assistant a range of questions, including ‘Alexa, which country has the most gold medals?’, and receive answers almost immediately.

Earlier this year, Alexa was updated with a range of Shakespearean insults to mark the 405th anniversary of the English playwright’s passing. 

When asked to recite a Shakespearean insult, Alexa may reply, ‘The rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril’ from The Merry Wives of Windsor.    

AMAZON DEVICES POWERED BY ALEXA 

In September 2020, Amazon released new Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers, with an entirely new spherical design and and improved audio. 

The new fourth-generation Echo range switched from the original cylindrical design of the Echo range and hockey-puck design of the Echo Dot range. 

Amazon Echo has switched from its original hockey puck shape to a more fetching orb shape. Pictured, Echo Dot (4th generation)

Amazon Echo has switched from its original hockey puck shape to a more fetching orb shape. Pictured, Echo Dot (4th generation)

The new range has a bright LED light ring at the base of the sphere that reflects off of surfaces ‘for added visibility’, a 3.0-inch woofer, dual-firing tweeters, and Dolby processing to deliver better stereo sound.   

The new Echo is currently priced at £80 and the smaller Echo Dot from £50, while a kids’ version of the Echo Dot is also available featuring a panda or tiger design.

Alternatively, users can opt for the Echo Show range – its devices that combine a camera and a screen with a smart speaker that’s powered by Alexa.

Amazon is currently offering its Echo Show 8 smart display for £100 and Echo Show 10, with a larger screen, for £240. 

Since the Echo range was kicked off in 2014, it has birthed a huge range of different devices – some of which are still to be released. 

In September 2019, Amazon announced the Echo Loop smart ring for users to speak into their hand, which is yet to get a full release. 

Announced on the same day were Echo Frames – Alexa-powered smart glasses with tiny microphones built into the frame.

UK writer Sam Jordison called the high-tech specs a piece of ‘terrifying spyware’ and a threat to privacy, by allowing Alexa to hear and record the most personal conversations within earshot.     

Echo Frames are listed on Amazon as ‘currently unavailable’. 

source: dailymail.co.uk