Amazon will now offer select celebrities to pipe in when Echo is summoned, although Alexa still reigns as the default helper. The company has kicked off its previously announced celebrity voice program with the Thursday rollout of “Snakes on a Plane” and “Pulp Fiction” actor Samuel L. Jackson.
Users can pay a $0.99 introductory fee and have Jackson’s voice respond to requests or they can ask questions about Jackson’s career and interests outside of Hollywood. The feature is not entirely dependent on prerecorded phrases; celebrity voices will be powered in part by Amazon’s neural text-to-speech model.
To enable the feature, users must say “Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson,” followed by a question or request. For instance, “Alexa, ask Samuel L. Jackson where he is from,” “Alexa, ask Sam to wake me up at 7a.m.,” or “Alexa, ask Sam Jackson to sing happy birthday.”
Amazon offers an in-character explicit response from Jackson and a clean version for all-ages households, just make the distinction in the Alexa app settings menu.
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Amazon has said that celebrity voices will cost $4.99 after the introductory discount. The feature, which is English-only for now, doesn’t yet support lists, reminders, skills, or shopping for Amazon items through Alexa.
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Amazon stock is up 16.7% for the year to date. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.86% and Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.79% are up 26% and 20.2%, respectively, for 2019 so far.