Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are duking it out for a place in your living room. It’s not clear yet who’s going to win the race, but Amazon just reached feature parity with Google in one particular area: voice recognition.
Alexa, who’s talking to you? Roughly six months after Google launched a similar feature, Amazon is updating its Echo devices and Alexa software to recognize user voices. This is a major step forward that will make Alexa more useful in family homes and other shared living spaces. Once trained, Alexa will be able to recognize who is issuing commands or questions and customize the response accordingly.
More than a parlor trick This has big implications, as it allows Amazon to better serve users in a myriad of ways. Different users will get different music playlists, personalized news briefs, and custom shopping recommendations, without having to jump through any hoops. Voice recognition also provides a seamless way to authenticate, decreasing the reliance on passwords.
Voice in the cloud Your voice profile will be stored in the cloud, raising some intriguing – and slightly worrying – questions. For instance, will Amazon eventually listen for your voice when you shop at Whole Foods?
How to set up Alexa voice recognition: To get started with voice recognition on your Alexa device, follow the instructions here. All Amazon Echo devices and a number of third-party Alexa-enabled devices will get the feature, which is currently rolling out to all users.