What’s the news? Amazon announced that its voice assistant Alexa can now speak Hindi. Alexa can now respond to users’ questions in Hindi, back in Hindi.
Why this matters: Google has just announced support for Hindi and other Indic languages in its Google Assistant. According to an IDC report, the smart speakers market in India is commanded by Amazon with a 59% market share; Google is second with 39% market share.
So, what changes? Alexa earlier used to support some Hinglish words (combination of English and Hindi), but with this update, the virtual assistant offers full-fledged support for Hindi. Here’s Amazon explaining how users can enable this feature.
There’s a privacy concern: Yes, a big one. We reported in April this year that thousands of Amazon employees around the world listen to users’ voice recordings captured on Alexa-powered Echo speakers. If Amazon is still doing this, that can put a lot of Indians’ privacy at a larger risk given that people might end up talking to Alexa more now that it supports Hindi. Google and Apple both have similar contractors to transcribe audio collected from Google Home and Siri respectively.