In a bid to make deeper inroads in the Hindi-speaking population in India, Amazon on Wednesday brought Hindi and Hinglish capabilities to its voice assistant Alexa on the Echo family of voice-controlled smart speakers. To get started with Hindi, just ask, "Alexa, help me set up Hindi." Existing Echo customers in India can change their device language to Hindi via language options inside the device settings on the Alexa app. Echo Show users can access the settings section to change the language by swiping down from the top of the screen.
Alexa can now understand commands such as "Bollywood ke latest gane sunao", "cricket score batao", "sher ki aawaaz sunao", or "Alexa, apne baare mei batao". "We are thrilled to bring a suite of AI advances in multi-lingual understanding so that customers can interact with Alexa in different regional variants of colloquial Hindi. We are grateful to Indian customers who contributed to Hindi development through the Cleo skill," said Rohit Prasad, Vice President, and Head Scientist, Alexa AI, Amazon.
Alexa in Hindi is also available on a range of smart speakers by Bose. Brands such as Motorola, MyBox, Boat, Portronics, Fingers, Sony, iBall and Dish will soon launch and update their existing Alexa-built in devices to support Hindi. "We look forward to Alexa delighting our Hindi-speaking customers and working with developers in India to invent many more Hindi skills," Prasad added. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), Amazon Echo led the Indian smart speakers market with a 59 per cent share in 2018, followed by Google Home with 39 per cent unit share.
Alexa arrived in India in 2017. Till date, she was able to understand and pronounce names of popular places, names, songs and more in languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Punjabi. With the new update, Alexa can now understand customers speaking to her completely in Hindi or Hinglish, in multiple contexts and varied regional accents and dialects. The users can ask Alexa for diverse Hindi content such as jokes, shayaris, games, Kabir ke dohe, Panchatantra stories, Bollywood dialogues, more than 500 Alexa skills, and even spellings of words in Hindi.
According to Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experiences and Devices, Amazon India, conversations in Hinglish are common. "With today's launch, you will notice that Alexa has become more local. Alexa will not only understand and respond in Hindi or Hinglish but, is also armed with a lot of knowledge about topics that interest users in the country ranging from local information to music, and from Bollywood to cricket," Kumar noted.
Soon, customers will also be able to speak to Alexa in Hindi and English without changing the language setting back and forth. Thousands of developers have already started building Alexa skills with a Hindi flavour.