Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Alexa to get supercharged with AI

Alexa can now handle multiple requests in a list.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Siri isn’t the only digital assistant getting an AI update in the near future. According to sources speaking to Reuters, Amazon is reportedly planning an expansive update for its decade-old digital conversationalist that would implement a two-tier service subscription that could cost users $5 t0 $10 per month.

The new voice assistant, dubbed “Remarkable Alexa” per the sources, could arrive as soon as August 2024. The project, code-named “Banyan” after the species of large ficus tree, has become something of a pet project for CEO Andy Jassy, who promised a “more intelligent and capable Alexa” to shareholders in an April letter. The sources warned, however, that the rumored pricing and release dates could shift as we get closer to August, depending on how well the project comes together prior to that deadline.

“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,” an Amazon spokeswoman told Reuters in a statement. Utilized primarily in Amazon TVs and Echo speakers, Alexa is most often leveraged to perform simple tasks like setting timers, remotely controlling smart home devices, reporting the weather, and answering basic user queries.

The Alexa service has long been a money pit for Amazon, having not turned a profit in any year since its debut in 2014. Like much of the rest of the industry, Amazon was caught on its heels with the release and immediate popularity of ChatGPT in 2022.

However, as other companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple have quickly scrambled to release generative AI systems of their own, Amazon has been slow to integrate generative AI technology into its products in any meaningful way. As such, Reuters’ sources have relayed that senior management considers 2024 a “must win” year for Alexa, despite hundreds of workers having been cut from that division in late 2023.

Amazon did show of a host of prototype generative AI features during its annual device event held in Seattle last September, however, none of those functions have yet to make it into a device available to consumers. The new Remarkable Alexa would replace the current free version, what the Alexa team internally refers to as “Classic Alexa” with a separate, but still free generative AI model.

Those willing to shell out the monthly $5 to $10 fee would gain access to a more powerful model capable of answering more complex questions, drafting basic emails, and ordering food through Uber Eats — all from a single prompt and without the need to chant “Alexa” at the start of each command.

There’s no word yet on whether the subscription will offer tie-ins to Amazon’s existing $140-per-year Prime service. Whether people will be willing to start paying for a product that they were already enjoying for free — and one which can be easily replaced by any number of more capable alternatives like Siri, Gemini, or ChatGPT — remains to be seen as well.

Andrew Tarantola
Andrew has spent more than a decade reporting on emerging technologies ranging from robotics and machine learning to space…
Researchers just solved AI’s biggest conundrum
The Harth Sleep-Shift Light Bulb running next to a bed.

The large language models that power today's chatbots like ChatGPT, Gemini, and Claude are immensely powerful generative AI systems, and immensely power-hungry ones to boot.

They apparently don't need to be, as recent research out of University of California, Santa Cruz has shown that modern LLMs running billions of parameters can operate on just 13 watts of power without a loss in performance. That's roughly the draw of a 100W light bulb, and a 50x improvement over the 700W that an Nvidia H100 GPU consumes.

Read more
This magical new app is an AI Ron Burgundy for your phone
the ElevenLabs reader app on an iPhone

Even as OpenAI delays its text to speech feature for ChatGPT, AI audio startup ElevenLabs released its Reader app for iOS on Wednesday, a model that promises to read aloud the words from virtually any content source, including news articles, PDFs, ePubs, and newsletters -- even paste-in web links.

Read more
Best Samsung Prime Day deals: TVs, phones, monitors and more
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 on a flat surface with the purple Galaxy Buds 2 Pro TWS Bluetooth earbuds on the side.

Samsung is one of the hottest brands in this year's Prime Day deals, as you'll be able to take advantage of discounts on all kinds of electronic devices such as TVs, smartphones, and appliances. Whether you're thinking about buying directly from Samsung or from any of the popular retailers, you can be sure that there's something from these offers that will catch your eye. You're going to have to hurry with your purchase though, as Samsung Prime Day deals are expected to sell out quickly. Check out our favorite bargains below, but act fast if you don't want to miss the savings.
Samsung TV Prime Day deals

Samsung is one of the best TV brands, so there will surely be high demand from shoppers for Samsung Prime Day TV deals. However, while Samsung is known for its top-of-the-line TVs with all of the latest technologies, it also offers budget-friendly TVs that are going to be even more affordable during the shopping holiday. Stocks are expected to run out fast though, so if you see a Samsung TV that you want to buy for Prime Day, it's highly recommended that you push through with the transaction as soon as possible.

Read more