Amazon makes Alexa sound more 'professional' and human-like when delivering the news
While Alexa can do everything from setting reminders and running multiple connected tasks with the new Routines feature to powering hands-free Skype calls and even respond to whispered commands in a similarly discreet manner, the way your requests are typically answered might not sound very natural.
But as announced a couple of months back, Amazon has been hard at work on making Alexa feel more human-like, with the newscaster speaking style now enabled in the US. What this does is basically make the voice assistant sound like a professional, real-life newscaster... kind of.
In all honesty, the audio samples provided to demonstrate the before and after differences in Alexa’s intonation are not mind-blowing. The upgrade is obvious, but you’ll still get your news from a robot, which is now slightly more aware of what words and phrases to emphasize rather than reading everything with no noticeable inflection or cadence.
A neutral speaking style voice is also rolling out in the US, providing Wikipedia information in a (slightly) less robotic way that's similarly unimpressive when compared to Google's arguably greater progress in the same field.
But because odds are this will be merely the first step in achieving a more “natural sounding and higher quality voice” for Alexa, Amazon deserves all the praise in the world. This is a company that gets things done when focusing on a specific, ambitious objective, so we won’t act surprised if Echo users start mistaking Alexa for a flesh and blood personal assistant a couple of years down the line.