Alexa finally gets a masculine sounding voice option

Amazon has quietly started rolling out a new masculine sounding voice option to his virtual Alexa assistant along with an equally masculine-sounding wake word to activate the assistant: “Ziggy.” (The odd name choice presumably fits Amazon’s love of “A to Z” style branding.)

The new voting option was added a few days ago alongside an announcement for new votes from celebrities such as Shaq and Melissa McCarthy, but it went largely unnoticed until it was announced. spotted by Area. You can hear a preview of the new voice option here.

The “Ziggy” wake word joins the existing “Alexa”, “Computer”, “Echo”, and “Amazon” wake words that have been available for use with Alexa for years. Amazon doesn’t specifically associate “Alexa” with the female-sounding voice and “Ziggy” with the new male-sounding option; users can use one of the speech options with one of the wake words.

You can switch between the two voice options — which Amazon refers to as “Original” and “New” — by asking Alexa to “Change your voice,” and you can similarly select a new trigger word by asking it to “Your wake word.” modify” .” However, the change appears to be device specific, so you’ll need to set up the new voice on each of your Alexa devices.

Amazon has been a reprieve when it comes to offering a masculine-sounding voice option for its digital assistant; Apple and Google offer multiple voice options for Siri and Google Assistant respectively. Neither company associates specific voices with gender anymore: Apple’s Siri options are presented as “Voice 1” and “Voice 2,” while Google’s voice options are listed under different colors.

Amazon’s new “Alexa’s Voice” settings menu.

You can now choose between the “Original” female sounding voice and the “New” male sounding option.

Amazon has only offered its feminine-sounding option since the Echo was first introduced in 2013. And while The New York Times notes that Alexa will respond to questions about gender by answering “I’m not a woman or a man, I’m an AI”, Amazon itself still tends to refer to the Alexa personality using gender-linked “she” and “her” pronouns in his documentation.

That’s despite that same documentation highlighting that Alexa is not “a person with a physical body or a gender identity” and that “Amazon does not allow organizations (e.g. skills or AVS) to refer to Alexa as ‘she’ or ‘her.'”

The new male-sounding Alexa voice option is reportedly only available in the US for now, but will likely make its way to other regions soon.