Amazon is releasing the new ability for it’s Alexa smart assistant: the ability to choose how fast it talks. By saying “Alexa, speak slower” or “Alexa, speak faster,” you’ll be able to get Alexa to speak slower or faster. Amazon says there might be seven different speeds for Alexa, two slower than the default and four which are faster. You can even say, “Alexa, speak at your default rate.”
Amazon is touting the feature as something that assists with accessibility, and that certainly is a possible benefit. Within the press release, Sarah Caplener, the head of Alexa for Everyone, is quoted as saying the slower speeds are for “hard of hearing and older customers” while the faster speeds are a boon to “customers who’re blind or low vision,” as a result of they “are used to consuming audio content and need to be able to hear more quickly.” Amazon has been working to make Alexa more accessible on a number of fronts over the past year.
The faster speeds may also just be a nicer consumer experience for everyone, as sometimes ready for Alexa to get through a piece of data or confirmation of your request just takes longer than doing it yourself in your phone. Amazon is already ahead of its opponents when it comes to making Alexa a little less verbose. Last year, it gave customers “Brief mode,” which allowed Alexa to confirm certain smart home instructions just by responding with a chime — something the Google Home is just beginning to do now.