Unpacking the Latest Amazon Alexa AI Update: Is it Worth It?

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Amazon isn't getting a superstar voice upgrade (well, neither is ChatGPT after its ScarJo snafu!). Still, according to a report by CNBC, Amazon is set to revolutionize its Alexa voice assistant with an artificial intelligence-driven overhaul. The tech giant plans to introduce a more conversational version of Alexa later this year, aiming to better compete with AI-powered chatbots from Microsoft and Alphabet's Google. This new version will be supported by Amazon's own Titan large language model.

To offset the costs of this advanced technology, Amazon will introduce a monthly subscription fee for Alexa users. Unfortunately, this fee won't be included in the company's $139 Prime offering. As of now, Amazon has not finalized the price for the new service.

Keeping up with the Joneses (or the Apples)

Alexa, launched in 2014, has struggled to find a consistent path to profitability. It primarily serves as a tool to drive shoppers to Amazon's website. Last September, Amazon updated Alexa with generative artificial intelligence features to enhance user engagement. However, the company also faced setbacks, cutting several hundred jobs in its Alexa unit in November 2023.

This overhaul is part of Amazon's broader strategy to keep up with the competition in the rapidly evolving AI landscape. The move follows recent developments from other tech giants; Apple is reportedly working on incorporating generative AI features into its Siri virtual assistant. But it's unclear how much consumers care about (or trust) AI enhancements—and it's unlikely they want to pay for them.

The announcement comes shortly after OpenAI revealed its new AI model, GPT-4o. This model enables users to engage in real-time, lag-free conversations with ChatGPT, a feature that traditional AI assistants have struggled to achieve.

As Amazon prepares to launch its enhanced Alexa, the tech industry watches closely to see how this next-generation voice assistant will impact the market and whether it will finally unlock the commercial potential of AI-driven virtual assistants.

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Disclaimer: Portions of this article were assisted by automation technology. All content therein has been augmented, thoroughly edited, and fact-checked by our in-house editorial staff of human safety experts.

Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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