If you regularly chat with Alexa and wish for a little bit more emotion in your exchanges, Amazon is about to deliver just that. Alexa can now talk with excitement or disappointment depending on the subject matter.
Writing on the Alexa Skills Kit Blog, Amazon's Catherine Gao explains how Alexa now has two new capabilities to "help create a more natural and intuitive voice experience." The first is Alexa's ability to respond with either a happy/excited voice, or a disappointed/empatheric tone when appropriate.
Alexa is able to do happy or disappointed as low, medium, and high intensity versions. Amazon's tests have shown a 30 percent increase in overall satisfaction with the voice experience among users when emotion is added to the voice.
In the US, two different speaking styles can also be enabled for news and music, where as Australia gets two news speaking styles. The speaking styles "tailor Alexa's voice to the respective content being delivered by changing aspects of speech such as intonation, which words are emphasized, and the timing of pauses." With the music voice especially, blind listening tests found it to be 84 percent more natural.
Amazon is making these speaking styles and the emotional voice options available to developers to use from today, so expect a quick uptake. I suspect it won't be long before we all forget how unnatural Alexa used to sound.