Amazon today announced that Alexa and Echo speakers are now available in France. Echo and Echo Dot speakers officially go on sale in France next week, while Echo Spot will be available starting next month.
The Alexa Skills Kit, which allows developers to make voice apps for Alexa, is now generally available in France. The Alexa Voice Service that puts Alexa inside hardware is also generally available today after an invite-only developer preview version was launched in March.
Hundreds of French-speaking skills are available from brands like Netatmo, Philips Hue, Uber, and Domino’s Pizza.
An expansion to French continues Alexa’s understanding of new languages. Over the past year or so, Alexa has learned to speak German and Japanese, plus several dialects of English from India as well as Australian and Canadian English in recent months.
International versions of the Echo smart speaker went on sale to more than 80 countries around the world last December, Amazon’s biggest global expansion to date, but these versions of the Echo smart speaker only speak English.
Local dialects make for different kinds of French, but should a French-speaking international Echo speaker be made available outside France, millions of French speakers in countries like Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland may also choose to bring Amazon’s AI assistant into their home.
Amazon engineers released the Cleo Alexa skill last year to improve Alexa’s understanding of different languages and dialects. The skill has been made available in the U.S., Germany, India, and Canada, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat. According to the skill’s listing in the Alexa Skills Store, Cleo has helped improve Alexa’s understanding of languages like French, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi.
While Alexa currently speaks only four languages, Apple’s Siri speaks 19 languages. Google Assistant, Alexa’s chief rival in the smart speaker market, can now speak 16 languages, including French, and will be made available in more than 30 languages by the end of the year with the goal of reaching 95 percent of Android smartphone users around the globe.
Multilingual support for households that speak more than one language is also planned for Google Assistant later this year, starting with English, French, and German. For its part, Google announced plans last month to bring Home speakers to an additional seven nations this year.