Amazon has quietly started introducing a new one masculine-sounding sound option To Alexa’s virtual assistant and at the same time masculine-sounding wake-up call that triggers an assistant: “Ziggy”. (The odd name choice is supposedly appropriate for Amazon’s love of the AZ-style brand.)
The new voice option was actually added several days ago along with the announcement of new celebrity voices like Shaq and Melissa McCarthy, but it went largely unnoticed until it was noticed Surroundings. You can hear an example of a new audio option here.
The Ziggy alarm word is related to existing Alexa, Computer, Echo, and Amazon alarm words that have been available with Alexa for years. Amazon doesn’t associate Alexa specifically with a female voice and Ziggy with a new masculine-sounding option; users can use any sound option with any alarm word.
You can switch between the two sound options – which Amazon calls “Original” and “New” – by asking Alexa to “Change your voice,” and you can similarly choose a new alarm word by asking “Change alarm word.” “However, the change seems to be device-specific, so you need to set up a new voice on each of your Alexa devices.
Amazon has been interesting in offering a masculine-sounding audio option to its digital assistant; Apple and Google offer several voice options for Siri and Google Assistant. Neither of these companies anymore associates certain voices with gender, either: Apple’s Siri options are “Voice 1” and “Voice 2,” while Google’s voice options are listed in different colors.
Amazon has only offered its feminine-sounding alternative since the Echo was first introduced in 2013. And while New York times notes that Alexa answers gender questions by answering “I’m not a woman or a man, I’m an AI”, Amazon itself still refers to Alexa personalities using the gendered pronouns “he” and “her” its documents.
Despite the same documentation emphasizing that Alexa is not “a person with a physical body or gender identity” and that “Amazon does not allow organizations (such as Skills or AVS) to call Alexa” him “or” him. “
The new masculine-sounding Alexa audio option is currently only available in the U.S., but is expected to be coming to other regions soon.