Amazon’s sleeper-hit voice assistant and speaker system, the Echo, started shipping to the UK today (Sept. 28). Apart from coming in a new shade of white, the only thing different with the new version is that Alexa, the voice inside the Echo, comes with a rather charming English accent:
Other US tech companies that have brought voice assistants abroad have similarly tried to adapt their technology to local markets, with varying degrees of success. Apple’s Siri assistant, for example, struggled for a long time with thick Scottish accents. But at first blush, it seems that Amazon has done a decent job of porting Alexa for the Queen’s English. Unfortunately, when you ask it to call you a taxi it does not call you a hackney carriage, nor does it tell you that the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain when you ask it the weather.
For US Echo owners who want to test out Alexa’s British accent, or perhaps for ex-pats longing to hear a familiar British accent at home aside from James Corden’s, you can actually swap out voices by changing the language from “English (American)” to “English (British)” in the settings of the Alexa app. It’s not clear whether British Alexa is actually pronouncing the added-in “u” in words like neighbour or colour, but she will tell you this very British fact: