Amazon’s Alexa and Echo device lineup has officially landed in Spain and Italy. Months after the Seattle company announced that the voice assistant would support Italian and Spanish, Amazon brought Alexa and its smart speaker lineup to the European countries this week.
A range of Echo speakers are available for preorder in Italy and Spain, including the Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Spot, and Echo Sub, as is the Amazon Smart Plug — and they begin shipping next week. (The Echo Show is unfortunately missing in action.) And third-party Alexa-enabled speakers from Sonos, Bose, Harman Kardon, Netgear, Sony, and others are on the way.
It’s not just new languages that Alexa now supports. Amazon has built “new experiences” honoring the unique cultures of Italy and Spain, according to Toni Reid, vice president of Alexa. And the company has worked with brands such as RAI, Giallo Zafferano, BTicino, Televisión Española, Renfe, El País, to ready country-specific skills ahead of today’s launch.
Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS) became available in Italy and Spain in June.
“Tens of millions of customers around the world are already using Alexa, and today we’re excited to introduce her to our customers in Italy and Spain,” Reid said. “[We’ve worked to ensure] Alexa knows what matters most to customers, just as a local would.”
Amazon has taken a slow but steady approach to global expansion, bringing Alexa and Echo devices to the U.K. and Germany in 2016, to Japan in November, and to France this summer. Amazon rolled out Alexa and Echo in India, Australia, and Canada after adapting the virtual assistant’s brand of English to suit local markets, and in 80 additional markets in late 2017.
In addition to Spanish, Italian, and various versions of English, Alexa currently understands German and Japanese.
In an effort to improve Alexa’s linguistic capabilities, Amazon released Cleo, a gamified skill that rewards users for repeating phrases in local languages and dialects. According to the Alexa Skills Store listing, this has helped to improve the voice assistant’s understanding of languages like French, Hindi, and Mandarin Chinese.
But on the localization front, Alexa trails behind competitors like the Google Assistant, which Google claims will support more than 30 languages by the end of 2018. Apple’s Siri speaks 20, meanwhile, and Microsoft’s Cortana is available in more than seven.
The Google Assistant has the added advantage of being able to speak two languages at once on smartphones, smart speakers, and Android tablets.
Alexa’s global expansion follows on the heels of a recent stateside feature: Whisper Mode. Thanks to machine learning, speakers in the U.S. can now respond to whispered speech.
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