Friday, 25 May 2018 15:06

Now hear this: Aussies and Kiwis can finally listen to Audible books via Amazon Echo

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Amazon Echo: It's in the news for "accidentally" spying on a user, sending a private conversation to an employee in their contact list, but you can now purposefully ask Amazon Echo to read you a spy novel – or any other kind of book.

Ok, so the Amazon Echo spy story is being reported in the media as having misheard the Alexa word and then somehow mishearing a command to send a message to someone in that person's address book.

That's the explanation from Amazon, according to CNN, which quotes an Amazon spokesperson stating: "Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like 'Alexa.' Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a 'send message' request.

"At which point, Alexa said out loud 'To whom?' At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer's contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, '[contact name], right?'

"Alexa then interpreted [the] background conversation as 'right'. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely."

So, with Amazon's secret agent seemingly set to get an early retirement, any resulting espionage can take the form of various spy novels read to you out loud, or any book in Audible's stable of tomes in dulcet tones to amaze your brain through your ears.

Indeed, whether relaxing, cooking, or cleaning, Aussies and Kiwis are finally granted the literary licence to listen to "even more of their favourite audiobooks throughout their day… simply by using their voice".

Starting today, if you're an Audible Australia member, or decide to become one, you can access their Audible library on Alexa.

Here’s how it works: 

  1. To play an audiobook in your library, just say: “Alexa, read … [the name of the book in your library].”
  2. To pause or resume, just say “Alexa, pause” or “Alexa, resume my book.”
  3. You can skip ahead or go backwards 30 seconds by saying “Alexa, go back” or “Alexa, go forward.”

Want an even cooler couple of features as an Audible subscriber, Amazon Echo user and even Kindle owner?

Of course you do! We're told that you can "rest assured you’ll always pick up right where you left off when switching between Alexa and the Audible app", and that with the "Whispersync for Voice" feature, "you can also switch between reading and listening with over 30,000 compatible audiobooks in the Kindle app".

Audible offers "over 200,000 audiobooks to choose from" and it'll take literally years of non-stop listening before you could possibly ever run out of content, while the service continues adding new titles on a regular basis.

This ensures the listening possibilities are "practically endless with an Audible membership", with more about listening to Audible with Alexa available here

We just have to hope that Ian Fleming's James Bond novel The Spy Who Loved Me doesn't turn into Amazon's "The Spy Who Heard Me", but hey, perhaps someone will write a book about it, and you'll soon be able to listen to it read aloud to you!

Here's someone on the Internet using their Alexa to read an Audible book – which gives you quality human voices reading the books, rather than merely Alexa's voice reading Kindle books:

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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