Alexa Can Now Speaks Like an AI From Down Under With Aussie Lingo Upgrade and ‘Strayan Celebrities
Alexa has expanded its vocabulary with more than 100 Australian words and phrases unique to the country and is promoting its new lingo with ads featuring ‘true blue’ Aussie celebrities Sophie Monk and comedy Duo The Inspired Unemployed. The slang and implied improved understanding of Australian accents may reflect one of the perennial complaints about voice assistants struggling with accents and idioms around the world, though with quintessentially Australian turns of phrase to go with the pronunciation.
The short ads include Monk making a grocery list composed of solely Australian slang terms and one of the two comedians facing an attack of magpies after ignoring Alexa’s advice for a magpie helmet. They each also have an ad showing off an Alexa Routine they’ve created and made available to the public. Monk has a particularly creative command for Alexa when she wants to avoid going to work. She asks Alexa to ‘chuck a sickie,’ and the voice assistant plays the sound of a dental drill while she calls into work to tell them she can’t make it.
If you’re in Australia you can say “Alexa, tell me something Aussie,” to get interesting facts about Australia. The voice assistant has added intriguing bits of history and legends to its database, including the story of Drop Bears, Murderous koala bears that fall on people walking under trees, knock them out, and eat them. If you try it in the U.S., however, you just get info about Australian terriers or the voice assistant thinks you’re asking it to tell you something ‘awesome’ instead.
The self-deprecating humor selling improved tech is part of Amazon’s bigger efforts to win Australian hearts. The country has long been keen on smart speakers and voice assistants and there’s a lot of opportunity and competition as a result. Amazon is usually the quarterly winner in global smart speaker sales outside of China, but Google devices took a big, early lead in Australia last year, according to Voicebot’s research. That was true even as the percentage of the country that owned at least one smart speaker shot past the U.S. Amazon can’t head to the ‘bottle-o all arvo.’ Foxtel, Australia’s largest television subscription service, made moves in voice AI late last year by partnering with TiVo to add TiVo’s voice search platform to its features. Foxtel’s local knowledge may have helped it avoid any pitfalls Alexa and Google Assistant have faced. In fact, they tested thousands of voices speaking the 10 most common variations of English in Australia. Still, Alexa does sound confident that it will fit right in at the barbie.
“I’ve been flat out learning the ins and outs of all things ‘Straya. I wanted to make sure I knew the best words and phrases for you all, as well as some current faves,” an Amazon blog post purportedly written by Alexa explains. “Special thanks to Matt, Jack and Sophie for helping me share all things ‘Straya. See ya’ when I’m looking at ya’.”