Users of the Amazon Echo smart speaker line might probably remember a little ad that the global tech giant put out for Super Bowl LII early last year. It was a skit with the intelligent virtual assistant Alexa, which communicates through the Echoes, allegedly losing her voice, leading to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to approve the temporary use of “replacement” voices, actually just celebrities like Gordon Ramsay and Cardi B giving borderline-troll responses to user requests. It was like an early April Fools’ Day gag, but what if you could use famous voices to respond to your Amazon Echo queries?
While Google has somewhat beaten Amazon to the punch with the Issa Rae voice option for Google Assistant last October, and this new Alexa feature is not quite the same thing, all that may be mollified by which celebrity has been tapped to provide alternate voice responses for Echo. According to The Verge it is none other than Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson, famous more recently perhaps for Nick Fury in the MCU franchise and for many other memorable characters in his long career. Amazon actually announced this was coming in September, but it is only on Thursday, December 12, that is has become available.
But first, the new Echo Samuel L. Jackson voice option has some specifics that need clarification. For one thing, unlike Google Assistant with Issa Rae, Echo users cannot replace Alexa herself with Jackson’s voice. Rather, they must phrase their request to have Alexa “ask” the actor’s voice to respond to their query. At least the choices have good range, from requesting Alexa to have Samuel read out the day’s weather updates, or asking Alexa to ask Samuel about details of his career and interests outside of acting. It seems roundabout but it does seem workable.
One more thing, it cannot be Samuel L. Jackson without his trademark penchant for putting tons of expletives in every other em-eff sentence. But seeing as the Amazon Echo can technically be used by all ages able to communicate then there are two voice options for the actor available, one that is more like Mace Windu from the “Star Wars” prequels or another that is like Jules Winfield from “Pulp Fiction” in terms of vocabulary. Echo users can avail of the Samuel L. Jackson voice package either through manual purchase on Amazon, or asking Alexa on their devices to “introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson.”
The update is on a special introductory price of $0.99 now, and Amazon notes that this and other future voices will cost $4.99 on standard.
Image from The Source Magazine