Report: Amazon might ask you to pay for the best Alexa

Amazon has spent a good portion of 2024 working on an upgrade for Alexa. Rumors from last month said the tech giant sought to implement AI tech into their assistant allowing it to compete with the likes of ChatGPT.

Now, as part of a new report, Reuters recently spoke to “eight current and former employees who worked on Alexa," giving insight into what the future update could bring. These sources claim that the project, “known internally as Banyan," consists of two versions of Alexa.

The first voice assistant, and Amazon’s main focus, is called “Remarkable Alexa." This is supposed to be the more intelligent of the two with generative AI features. According to Reuters, it would be capable of performing multiple tasks from a single prompt, such as writing a brief email and ordering delivery.

The insiders say Amazon also seeks to improve the smart assistant’s conversational skills. You won’t have to repeat the name “Alexa” repeatedly while giving instructions, for example.

Remarkable Alexa will apparently be able to automatically create Routines without direct input from a user since it’ll pay attention to your daily routine. For example, if the assistant hears your alarm clock going off in the morning, it’ll turn on your coffee machine. “Amazon is also aiming to supercharge” home automation, reportedly.

Reuters’ sources state Alexa will connect to “smart devices” that can be controlled via voice commands. In another given example, you could instruct the AI to “turn the porch lights on every day at 8 pm.” The report says customers will need to purchase “additional Alexa-enabled devices" to make house-wide control possible.

Potential pricing

Be aware that the new Alexa will not be a free upgrade. Amazon plans to launch Remarkable Alexa as a monthly add-on to Prime memberships, although the pricing is still in the air as it could cost either $5 or $10. With a Prime subscription, people could be looking at a total of $19.99 to $24.99 a month.

It’s worth noting the sources were critical of the extra charge, wondering if people were willing to pay for something that is already free. What’s more, there may not be a special “tie-in with Amazon’s $139-per-year Prime membership."

There’s very little information about the second version of Alexa. All that is known is it’ll serve as a replacement for “Classic Alexa," which is the current version, and will also be powered by artificial intelligence.

Pressure

Reuters claims there is a lot of internal pressure at Amazon HQ to get the Alexa revamp right. Their sources say the project “represents a ‘desperate attempt’ to revitalize the service." Alexa has never turned a profit in all its years, and its status in the industry has been kneecapped by the rise of generative AI.

Amazon is pushing employees to launch Remarkable Alexa sometime in August, but don’t get too attached to that release window. The launch window, as well as the final pricing, could change, or the project could be canceled at any time. It all depends on how well development progresses moving forward.

As with every leak, take this information with a grain of salt. Be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best Alexa speakers for 2024.

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