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Amazon’s Alexa To Get AI Update

Siri is no longer the only digital assistant set for an AI update.

According to Reuters, Amazon is preparing an expansive update for its Alexa digital assistant, which would see the implementation of a two-tier service subscription, costing users between U$5 and U$10 a month (approx. A$7 to A$15).

The new voice assistant will reportedly be called ‘Remarkable Alexa’ and could arrive as soon as August this year.

The project is codenamed ‘Banyan’ after a large species of ficus trees. CEO Andy Jassy is reportedly promising a “more intelligent and capable Alexa.”

As August creeps closer, it’s possible the pricing and release dates could change, according to Reuters.

An Amazon spokeswoman said, “We have already integrated generative AI into different components of Alexa, and are working hard on implementation at scale — in the over half-a-billion ambient, Alexa-enabled devices already in homes around the world — to enable even more proactive, personal, and trusted assistance for our customers.”

Alexa is mainly used in Amazon TVs and Echo Speakers, and is used commonly for performing simple tasks, such as setting timers, remotely controlling smart home devices, reporting the weather, and answer basic queries.

The Alexa service has not once turned a profit for Amazon since its debut in 2014.

While companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple have rushed to release generative AI systems of their own, Amazon has been slow when it comes to integrating generative AI technology into its products.

Sources claim that Amazon senior management considers 2024 a “must-win” year for Alexa, despite cutting hundreds of jobs late last year.

During the company’s annual device event held last September, Amazon did reveal a range of prototype generative AI features.

None of these have made it to available consumer devices yet.

‘Remarkable Alexa’ is believed to replace the current free version ‘Classic Alexa’ with a separate model, that is still free.

Those willing to fork out for the monthly subscription would gain access to a more powerful model. This model will be able to answer more complex questions, draft basic emails, and order food through Uber Eats, from one single prompt.

There will also be no need to chant “Alexa” at the start of each command.

Currently, it’s unclear if the subscription will offer tie-ins to the existing Amazon Prime service.



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