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Software Technology

Amazon Will Let Alexa Developers Use Voice Recognition To Personalize Apps (theverge.com) 30

Amazon today announced that third-party developers will be able to make use of the Alexa assistant's voice recognition feature to personalize apps for its line of Echo speakers. The news builds on the company's announcement in October that Alexa can now identify individual users' voices to personalize responses. The Verge reports: Until today, that recognition feature only worked for Amazon-built services like shopping lists, flash briefing news updates, and Amazon Music, among other built-in skills. Starting some time in early 2018, however, developers will be able to tap into those voice-based profiles to make apps more personalized to various members of a household. This yet again puts Amazon ahead of rival Google in the smart home and digital assistant fields. In addition to announcing voice recognition for third-party apps, Amazon also revealed today at its re:Invent conference that it's bringing Alexa notifications on Echo speakers to a wider pool of developers starting today.

Amazon Will Let Alexa Developers Use Voice Recognition To Personalize Apps

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @02:30AM (#55642199)

    Fixed the headline

    • by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @03:10AM (#55642285)

      If you are discussing your top secret plans with Alexa you're doing it wrong.

      I've been playing with Alexa (the app) for a couple of days and I'm genuinely impressed with the voice recognition capability. Due to lung disease, I have trouble communicating with actual humans over the phone, yet most of what I manage to croak out is recognized by Alexa.

      I remember 20 years ago evaluating voice recognition software where you had to train it to your voice, enunciate very slowly and clearly, and it still didn't work very well.

      • If you are discussing your top secret plans with Alexa you're doing it wrong.

        that would be true if only thing spied on is " top secret plans " of actual illegal crimes,subject to a court approved warrant. unfortunately that is not true. everything gets spied on now. and then usually hacked too.

        and what about the 3rd parties who had no say on this, whose voices are captured and profiled.

        • In some jurisdictions I believe that the consent of everyone present is needed if conversations are recorded. I wonder if this means that anyone with one of these devices will need to hang a sign saying audio surveillance is in progress.
      • by RedK ( 112790 )

        If you are discussing your top secret plans with Alexa you're doing it wrong.

        You mean in the vicinity of an Alexa. Because you know that thing is in "listen" mode all the time right ?

        "NO! IT JUST REPLIES WHEN YOU SAY ALEXA FIRST!".

        Ok. Fine. How does it know you said Alexa if it's not listening to everything you say ?

        Checkmate. Anyway, it's disingenuous to pretend that privacy is always about hiding nefarious things.

        • You mean in the vicinity of an Alexa. Because you know that thing is in "listen" mode all the time right ?

          On the Fire tablet, Alexa has to be enabled in settings, and then you have to manually start the app to get it to "listen". It's hard to do inadvertently.

          I realize there are devices available that work differently, but I have no experience with or interest in them.

          I agree with the statement that privacy is not about hiding nefarious things. My point was that I don't care if Amazon or Ukranian hackers know that I asked what the weather was going to be tomorrow or that I set a timer for a soft-boiled egg. In

      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        I wonder how well it would work for speech impediments.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    will amazon censor apps to keep people from developing ones that compete against it? such as a shopping list app that uses walmart or target instead of amazon?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      they dont work like that. they like to watch. they like to watch.
      and they watch, steal customer lists, steal business models, steal vendors.
      and then they copy and take over by cheating.

      scamazon

  • by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Wednesday November 29, 2017 @09:22AM (#55643239)

    Headline from July 2026: The deathtoll from last year's Laryngitis pandemic has been set at 3.1 Billion. Not only was the disease -- accidentally released by an attempt to genetically engineer self illuminating Christmas Trees -- 93% lethal if not treated, Most victims were unable to summon help because their personal assistants and cell phones were unable to recognize their croaks as valid attempts to log in/summon aid.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Most victims were unable to summon help because their personal assistants and cell phones were unable to recognize their [sick voice] as valid attempts to log in/summon aid.

      Add hand gesture recognition. I just drafted a simple one-finger gesture to have Alexa shut-up and shut-off.

  • This yet again puts Amazon ahead of rival Google in the smart home and digital assistant fields...... in the handful of countries that are supported.

    Meanwhile Google Assistant has no geoblocking.

  • Correct me if I'm wrong on this. Alexa has to somehow store both your voice pattern and your identity. So...A patient enough bad actor (state sponsored or otherwise) can hack your system (poor firewalls and use of bad passwords), get a good sample of your voice, and have a field day. Please tell me (lie if needed) that anyone with a functioning brain stem is going to avoid this like week old tuna salad.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

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