Amazon is eyeing a summer launch for a premium iteration of its well-known virtual assistant, dubbed 'Alexa Plus,' which promises to enrich user experience with advanced AI capabilities. Riding on the wave of generative AI, this subscription-based version of Alexa hopes to surpass the classic free version, according to Business Insider, referencing sources in the know.
Despite the excitement surrounding 'Alexa Plus', the journey hasn't been without its hurdles. Internal tests conducted with around 15,000 participants have highlighted certain areas where Alexa's performance didn't quite meet the high standards set by the development team. The enhanced assistant has shown a tendency to give responses that are either overly detailed or misinformed and fumbles when asked to carry out multiple services simultaneously, such as switching off lights and music in one go.
The projected release date for this premium service is June 30, although Amazon hasn't closed the door on the possibility of delaying the launch if these challenges aren't resolved.
The concept of a subscription model for Alexa isn't new. Former Amazon executive David Limp previously conveyed in a Bloomberg interview that the tech giant was contemplating a subscription offering for Alexa. Limp highlighted that before they move forward with charging customers, it's crucial that Alexa demonstrates exceptional usefulness and lives up to the expectations of being a 'superhuman' assistant.
Given that Amazon has experienced some setbacks in keeping pace with its arch-rivals in the smart assistant arena, such as Google Assistant and Siri, the introduction of 'Alexa Plus' could potentially give its virtual aide the enhancement it needs to reclaim competitive ground.