Alexa Can Recognize Different Voices Now

Amazon first announced it was coming about a month ago and it’s finally here, in the US (Amazon says UK support is coming soon): Alexa can recognize different voices now. However, it’s probably not quite what you were expecting.


Hear Your Own Voice


Alexa Voice Recognition Is Essentially An Expansion Of Amazon Household Functionality
When Alexa device owners started asking for Alexa to be able to tell different household members apart by their voices I think what most of them really wanted was a type of parental control. I believe they were thinking that if Alexa could distinguish the teens and children in the household from the adults, she could limit or deny access to adult-rated content or purchasing capability.

Well, this isn’t that.

The only voices Alexa can be trained to recognize are those belonging to adults who are part of your Amazon Household. You must first set up an Amazon Household Profile for each adult user in the Alexa app.

An Amazon Household can include up to 2 adults (each with their own, separate Amazon account), up to four teens (aged 13-17) and up to four children, but Alexa Voice Recognition can only be set up for the two adults. Here are some important caveats about Amazon Household:

– When you add a second adult to your Amazon Household, you are authorizing that person to use credit cards associated with your Amazon account for purchases on Amazon. If you want to control purchasing, you can require a confirmation code for voice purchases in the Alexa app and keep it secret from the other adult in your Household. Alexa will then ask for the confirmation code before completing purchases.

– On Echo Show, the second adult in your household can view your Prime Photos. For information about restricting access to your photos, go to Restrict Access on Echo Show.


What You Gain With Voice Recognition
Where in the past, members of a household would have to ask Alexa to “switch profile,” having Voice Recognition set up allows Alexa to automatically switch the profile just by hearing each adult Household member’s voice. Once the profile has been switched, content (e.g., streaming music, Audible books, etc.) is limited to the currently-active profile just as if it had been switched with a manual command.

Alexa Calling and Messaging will be specific to the profile going forward as well. From Amazon’s Alexa Voice Profiles help page:

With voice profiles, you don’t need to specify whose messages you’d like Alexa to play, or who a message is from. Alexa automatically plays your messages and sends messages to your contacts from you. When you make an Alexa-to-Alexa call, Alexa will also announce that it’s you to the contact you’re calling (e.g. “John is calling”). Here are some things to try:

– Play your messages – Say, “play my messages.” Alexa will recognize your voice, and only play messages sent to you. Alexa will do the same for each user in your home with a voice profile, so that you only hear messages intended for you.

– Send messages – Say, “send a message” and Alexa will send the message from you. This way, if you and other users in your home have mutual contacts, the person who receives the message will know who sent it.

– Alexa-to-Alexa calling – When you start an Alexa-to-Alexa call, Alexa will announce your name, so the person you’re calling knows it’s you before answering.

Click here for more information about Alexa Calling and Messaging.


Setting Up Voice Recognition
Voice Recognition is set up in the Alexa app, and it’s pretty easy to do. The screenshots below tell the story.

Begin by opening the Main Menu in the Alexa app. It’s accessed via the “hamburger” icon at the top of the screen, which looks like three short, horizontal lines. In the screenshot below, the Main Menu is open. Tap on Settings.
Alexa App Main Menu


In the Settings menu, scroll down to find the new Your Voice menu item, and select it.
Alexa App Settings Menu


In the Your Voice screen, tap the Begin button at the bottom.
Alexa App Your Voice Menu


In the Teach Alexa your voice screen, you must select an Alexa device that’s available for you to speak into, then tap the Next button to begin speaking the 10 required phrases to Alexa when prompted by the selected device. Alexa will analyze the recordings to create an internal voice recognition profile for you. The other adult member of your Household must repeat these steps in their own copy of the Alexa app.
Alexa App Teach Alexa Your Voice


That’s all there is to it, both in terms of functionality and setup. Amazon may elect to expand this functionality in the future if enough users ask for it, so if you have suggestions for improvement be sure to submit them to Amazon. I’m surprised to find the Help & Feedback form appears to have been removed from the mobile version of the Alexa app, but it’s still there in the web browser version of the app ( as of this writing.


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