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Amazon’s Voice Assistant Alexa Can Now Whisper

Amazon is making its Alexa voice assistant sound more human.

The e-commerce giant said on Friday that it had updated Alexa’s robotic voice, which plays a key role in Amazon’s Echo home automation device, so that it can whisper if told to do so. Users can also get Alexa to bleep out expletives in songs, emphasize certain words, and speak more slowly.

Alexa has gained traction for its ability to answer questions, turn on lights, order items like diapers, and even request an Uber directly through Amazon’s Echo, the smaller Echo Dot as well as Amazon’s Fire tablets. Users simply give a command to Alexa, like “Alexa, order an Uber to home,” and it follows through with the request.

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The updates announced on Friday are all part of an effort to make Alexa smarter and more human-like. Amazon recently revealed that outside developers can now access the voice recognition technology that powers Alexa, to add a voice assistant technology to their own services. Making Alexa more powerful could help convince developers to use the technology.

Google has also been working on making its Alexa rival, Google Assistant, behave more like a human. The search giant recently added the ability to distinguish between different voices in a household using the Google Home device. For example, different family members can speak to the device and it will recognize the voice and personalize requests for certain users.

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