Amazon today announced that Alexa-enabled devices can now recognize unique human voices, giving the assistant the power to deliver a personalized experience when it hears you speak.
Once a Voice Profile has been created — by reciting 10 phrases to the Alexa app — whenever Alexa hears “Play music” or “Play my messages,” the AI assistant will recognize your voice and deliver results based on your profile or previously expressed preferences.
At launch, personalized results will be available for shopping with Amazon, news flash briefings, Amazon Music Unlimited account holders, and calls and messages. Additional features will be available in the future, an Amazon spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.
Personalized calls and messages apply to Drop In calls and messages with the Alexa app, as well as phone calls, but do not include SMS messages. Free phone calls with Alexa in the United States, Canada, and Mexico were made available for the first time last month.
A single Alexa account can support up to 10 unique voices, the spokesperson said. Google Assistant has had the ability to recognize up to six unique voices for similar personalized results since this spring.
Voice profiles can be made with the Alexa app and any Amazon Echo device. Once created, personalized results can be delivered through any Alexa-enabled device, including third-party devices that use the Alexa Voice Service. Instructions on various ways to create a Voice Profile can be seen in this Amazon video.
Voice profiles will replace Alexa voice training. Prior to the introduction of voice profiles, voice training in the Alexa app taught the AI assistant to improve recognition.
Today’s move is Amazon’s latest attempt to incentivize use of native Amazon offerings like Drop Ins for calls and messages in the Alexa app or Amazon Music. It’s also another feint in the tit-for-tat chat wars between large tech companies with AI assistants — like Google Assistant, Samsung’s Bixby, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
In recent weeks, Amazon and Google Assistant collectively released more than a dozen new devices. From earbuds to smart speakers to smartphones, virtually all the products were centered around interactions with Alexa or Google Assistant.
Competition is heating up ahead of the holiday season, which is the biggest time of year for sales, according to analysis by voice analytics company VoiceLabs.