Smart Home

Amazon's Alexa just learned to whisper and to bleep your $&@#

Soon, "speechcons" will make your Amazon Echo or Dot sound a little more human and a little less robot.

The Alexa assistant is getting some new vocal skills.
Chris Monroe/CNET

Pretty soon, Amazon's Alexa assistant is going to get some new speaking skills -- like whispering, shouting and speed-talking, as well as bleeping out naughty words.

Other "speechcons" like this already exist for Alexa in the US, but this set of five new tools will give developers more control over Alexa's volume, intonation and emotion.

(It's all part of SSML, or Speech Synthesis Markup Language, a speech standard.)

Here's what you'll start to hear:

  1. Whispers
  2. Expletive beeps
  3. Substitutions (Alexa will swap a word for the one that's written)
  4. Emphasis (this affects Alexa's speech rate and volume)
  5. "Prosody" (controls volume, pitch, and speech rate)

Users in the UK and Germany will also start being able to get in on the fun. Amazon said it's rolled out speechcons to those countries, which will help Alexa pronounce local phrases with more finesse. Ace!