Voice command just got a whole lot better - Amazon's Echo tablet comes with an amazing new feature.
For as long as there have been books, people have searched for new ways to enjoy their content. From books on tape to electronic readers, the way people consume literature is constantly evolving. And according to a recent Engadget report, Amazon is on the cutting edge once again.
The company has revealed a new feature in its wireless speaker, ‘Echo.’ By simply asking Alexa, the speaker’s voice assistant, to read the title of your favorite Kindle book, consumers will have access to cleanly narrated audio across all titles in the Kindle library.
Users can also control the pace and flow of the narration like never before. Amazon has listed a series of voice commands on their website that tell Alexa to pause, pick up where she left off, and skip to different parts or chapters of a book. It’s a far cry from popping a cassette tape in the deck and listening to a book on a road trip – Echo will read Kindle books just about anywhere.
Users will simply address the voice assistant and follow up with a command to get the narrator to carry out different actions. “Alexa, read “[book title]” will start the narration from the beginning; “Alexa, read my Kindle book,” will pick up where she last left off. Users can also command Alexa to pause, and skip forward or back within the text.
Alexa can also control a wide range of other features associated with Amazon Echo, including answering questions about people, dates, TV shows and films and music. She can also answer questions related to math, science, and grammar, define words, and calculate geographic distances with ease. She can present any searchable information in a quick, easy-to-understand manner, and can even tell a joke to boot.
While the new feature allows unprecedented access to a huge library of audiobooks, the narration quality is still not completely there. Nothing can match an actual human voice in terms of our ability to recognize speech patterns, but Alexa does a good job given the monumental task of dictating hundreds of thousands of books.
Users who are curious about the way Alexa will sound narrating their favorite Kindle book can get a preview by asking her to read an article on the web, using the same text-to-speech technology that will allow her to read books. While the voice can sound clunky and machine-like, the ability to get lost in a literary world without straining your eyes could prove to be incredibly welcome.