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Business News/ Technology / News/  Amazon's Alexa to offer AI features for 418 monthly: What it means for Indian users
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Amazon's Alexa to offer AI features for ₹418 monthly: What it means for Indian users

Amazon reportedly plans to overhaul Alexa with a generative AI, offering two service tiers including a $5 monthly fee. The revamped version, known as 'Banyan,' aims to enhance capabilities and compete with Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI.

Reuters reported that according to their sources, the revamped version, known internally as 'Banyan', could feature a superior version available for a monthly fee of around $5.Premium
Reuters reported that according to their sources, the revamped version, known internally as 'Banyan', could feature a superior version available for a monthly fee of around $5.

E-commerce giant Amazon is reportedly planning a significant overhaul of its decade-old Alexa service, aiming to integrate a conversational generative AI with two service tiers. 

Reuters reported that according to their sources, the revamped version, known internally as "Banyan," could feature a superior version available for a monthly fee of around $5.

"Banyan," named after the expansive ficus trees, represents the first major update to the voice assistant since its 2014 launch alongside the Echo speaker line, adds the report. The new iteration, dubbed "Remarkable Alexa," is expected to significantly enhance the assistant's capabilities. Eight current and former employees involved with Alexa, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, shared these details.

The report adds that Amazon is pushing for an August deadline for the latest Alexa version, with CEO Andy Jassy personally invested in the project's success. In a recent shareholder letter, Jassy hinted at a “more intelligent and capable Alexa," without disclosing further specifics. However, insiders warn that the plans, including pricing and release schedules, could change based on the progress of Project Banyan.

An Amazon spokeswoman told Reuters, "We have already integrated generative AI into different components of Alexa and are working hard on implementation at scale—in the over half a billion ambient, Alexa-enabled devices already in homes around the world—to enable even more proactive, personal, and trusted assistance for our customers."

Originally a passion project of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Alexa was envisioned to emulate the fictional voice computer from Star Trek. The service, which provides spoken responses to user queries and can control home appliances, has yet to turn a profit. Some employees see Project Banyan as a crucial attempt to revive Alexa amid increasing competition from Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI’s chatbots, which have gained significant attention for their advanced conversational abilities.

Amazon's restructuring efforts, including significant layoffs in late 2023, reflect the challenges faced by Alexa. Primarily accessed via Amazon TVs and Echo speakers, Alexa remains popular for simple tasks like setting timers, checking the weather, playing music, or answering basic questions. However, its potential to drive e-commerce sales has not materialized as expected, partly because users prefer to see and compare products visually.

(With inputs from Reuters)

 

 

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Published: 21 Jun 2024, 04:48 PM IST
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