Alexa, the virtual personality behind Amazon Echo, will now repeat anything you want. As long as you don’t step into NSFW language, that is.
Over the weekend, Amazon began notifying owners of its voice-activated, voice-response Echo speaker about two new features.
The first provides limited voice command support for Spotify, Pandora and iTunes (beyond built-in support for Amazon Music services, TuneIn and iHeartRadio). A paired Bluetooth device with an app for any of the three music services can be directed to “play, pause, stop, next or previous” tracks. The new feature doesn’t work with Rhapsody or other music apps, yet, as our attempts confirm.
A second feature is designed strictly for fun. By saying “Alexa, Simon Says” and then a phrase, the intelligent speaker will repeat whatever you say next in the female Alexa voice.
Our tests show the accuracy is pretty good. Unless you cross the line into George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on radio,” as we discovered in our experiment:
Yes, Alexa actually will bleep out part of a word that she is too modest to repeat. That may be the first mark of true artificial intelligence.
Amazon is almost constantly releasing upgrades to both Echo’s software that resides in Amazon Web Services and the companion Echo apps for iOS and Android. The latest tweaks also include, as Amazon described it, improved “response speed and accuracy for many of your questions, expanded coverage of facts from Wikipedia, and added new spelling words and definitions.”
Amazon Echo is still available only by invitation at a price of $99 for Prime members, $199 for everyone else.