Alexa Enhances Voice for Amazon Kids, Exports Service to 4 New Countries
Children talking to Alexa through the Amazon Kids (formerly known as Freetime) feature will better understand and empathize with the voice assistant following an update pushed out in the last month with a handful of other Alexa-related upgrades. The new voice was released in tandem with a major geographic expansion for Amazon Kids on Alexa, which is now available in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and Italy.
Alexa Talks to Kids
Amazon described Alexa’s improved Amazon Kids voice as a “slower, more expressive” version of the standard version. Children can be suspicious of voice assistants and often have at least a little trouble communicating with them. That’s one of the reasons companies like Soapbox Labs specialize in voice AI for kids. Slower and more emotion-heavy speech from Alexa may mitigate the problems as well. It’s also a boon for English-speaking children with accents, like the newly minted potential market in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and Italy. Parents can control aspects of the experience, like preventing online purchases and time limits. The new voice will serve as the Amazon Kid interface, which includes child-friendly jokes, conversation pieces, and filtered songs, all designed to engage with kids educationally.
“For example, if a child is using a device powered by Amazon Kids and asks, ‘Alexa, why is the sky blue?’ Alexa might answer with a fun yet easy-to-understand response like, ‘The sky is blue because the molecules of the atmosphere scatter blue light across the sky, more than any other color. And did you know blue is the most popular color across the world? I guess the sky must love blue as well!'”
Amazon’s frenzy of new and improved devices and features for Amazon devices and Alexa in the last few weeks, like new Echo smart speakers and a potential new role for the Astro robot. The voice assistant saw quieter upgrades as well. Alexa Shopping List users can add personalized notes to specific items to elaborate quickly on what they want to buy. Alexa can also proactively warn of upcoming rain or snow by asking the voice assistant to “tell me when there is rain/snow.” The voice assistant will then alert the users when precipitation is in the forecast and its estimated duration and amount. When it is rainy or snowy, Alexa has deepened its integration with Apple Podcasts so that users can now ask Alexa to play, pause, and resume a podcast on the service without citing Apple specifically once it is set as the default podcast skill. They can also discuss what to watch with the voice assistant on Fire TVs as the personalized entertainment recommendation feature is now out of beta.
There were also plenty of new child and family-focused creations. For instance, the recent Devices event shared more information on how Alexa will integrate with the Hey Disney custom voice assistant, a new AI storytelling feature, and two new Echo Dot Kids animal covers with corresponding custom Alexa voices. Amazon Kids may be on the rise, but the end of Amazon Glow after only a year suggests the tech giant is still working on figuring out what kind of tech toys kids want.