Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge
You might hear a little more emotion from Alexa’s vaguely-robotic voice some time soon, as Amazon announced today that developers can now have Alexa respond to questions from US users with a “happy/excited” or a “disappointed/empathetic” tone.
Amazon suggests the happy/excited tone could be used when you answer a trivia question correctly, for example, and that the disappointed/empathetic tone could be used when you ask for a sports score and your favorite team has lost. (One day, I’m sure she’ll express disappointment at some dumb question that I ask, and I’ll deserve it.)
If you want to hear the different voices for yourself, Amazon shared six examples, three for each emotion at increasing levels of excitement or disappointment:
Disappointed (Low Intensity)
Disappointed (Medium Intensity)
Disappointed (High Intensity)
Excited (Low Intensity)
Excited (Medium Intensity)
Excited (High Intensity)
I honestly don’t think the disappointed voice sounds that disappointed — maybe more unhappy or a little bit sad. The excited voice is great, though, especially the high intensity version. Alexa is so happy to be playing a single hand in what looks like a losing game!
This isn’t Amazon’s first new intonation for Alexa, as it launched a newscaster-like voice for US customers in January. In today’s blog, though, Amazon also announced that developers can use another new “topic-focused” voice designed to discuss music. Both voices have slightly different intonations and flow than the standard Alexa voice, and they sound much closer to a newscaster or radio DJ’s voice that you might hear on the radio.
You can compare a standard Alexa voice with the newscaster and radio DJ-like voices below:
News (US) Standard Voice
News (US) Speaking Style
Music (US) Standard Voice
Music (US) Speaking Style
Amazon also said that developers can now enable a newscaster voice with an Australian accent as well.