A general lack of judgment has always been one of the strongest appeals of smart assistants. Whatever bad pop song or terrible online video you play for the 10,000th time — they don’t care. They’re simply there to help, judgment free.
Amazon, however, has been working on some features behind the scenes to help make Alexa more lifelike. Those involve bringing more emotional resonance to the smart assistant — namely the ability to make its voice sound varying levels of excited and disappointed.
“Alexa emotions” feature three levels of intensity. For the full effect, here’s “I just listened to the Smiths and then Googled what Morrissey has been up to lately” mode:
We all get down around the holidays, Alexa. Are you sure there’s nothing you want to talk about here? Amazon says users are feeling the newly empathetic assistant. “ Early customer feedback indicates that overall satisfaction with the voice experience increased by 30% when Alexa responded with emotions,” it writes in a post.
The feature is available to developers starting today, primarily focused on gaming skills. That means they’ll probably start rolling out to applications in the near future. No word on whether it’s possible to set those flash news briefings to perpetual disappointment.
The company is also rolling out a content-tailored delivery, design to give Alexa a style more akin to a news anchor or radio host.