Alexa users can now ask to speak to Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson, as Amazon joins Google in a race to bring celebrity voices to our smart homes.
You might recall Google added John Legend to the Google Assistant earlier this year. Now, Amazon has launched its Alexa Celebrity Voice Program, and is kicking things off with the "Pulp Fiction," "Snakes on a Plane" and "Iron Man" star, Samuel L. Jackson.
- Google Assistant gets John Legend's voice
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But, while John Legend can be used instead of your Google Assistant default voice, Samuel L. Jackson's appearance on Alexa doesn't work in the same seamless way. Instead, you've to enable the Ask Sam skill, then repeatedly ask Alexa to relay a message to him. For example: "Alexa, ask Samuel L. Jackson for the weather", or: "Alexa, ask Samuel what he does when he's not making movies."
This is because Echo smart speakers can only respond to a handful of hot words, like Alexa, and Sam is too common of a name to be used instead. We understand why this limitation is in place, even if it feels awkward.
That somewhat frustrating stumbling block aside, there is a lot you can ask of the actor. You can ask him (or rather, you can ask Alexa to ask him) about his favorite hobby, what music he likes, what he does in his spare time, and what it was like making a "Star Wars" movie.
You can also ask how Jackson got the park of Nick Fury in the "Iron Man" movies, and what his secret is to success. Then there are his favorites; these include movie lines, books, drinks, games, video games, ice cream and TV show.
The skill costs $4.99 but for now is reduced to $1Amazon
Safe to say, you can learn an awful lot about the actor by asking Alexa. It's just a shame you can't ask the computerized Jackson directly.
Other features include Jackson cracking jokes, singing Jingle Bells, wishing you a Merry Christmas, and playing the game, Rock, Paper, Scissors.
More usefully, Jackson can take over some of Alexa's duties, informing you about the weather forecast, playing music on demand, setting timers while you cook dinner, working out math problems, answering general knowledge questions, and reading out the news headlines.
Here is a list of everything you can ask of the virtual actor.
It's certainly a comprehensive list, and Jackson no doubt spent a lot of time recording all of the answers for Amazon. However, Amazon admits Jackson can't help you with your Alexa shopping lists, reminders or skills. We'd also like to see the option to have Jackson control smart home devices.
To get started, say, "Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson". The assistant will then load up the skill, ask if you'd like to use the explicit or family-friendly version, then hand you over to Jackson.
The Samuel L. Jackson voice skill currently costs $1, but after an introductory period this will be increased to $4.99. Amazon says more celebrity voices will be added to Alexa through 2020.
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