When Amazon introduced the Echo smart speaker last year, it wasn’t very clear how useful it would be. The company released an SDK so developers could take advantage of this product and use it with third-party applications. Over time, the Bluetooth speaker has been updated with new features and ways to use it, it can be used with Yelp and it can even be used with some Ford vehicles to unlock them and even start the engine as well as controlling some home appliances. Alexa, the digital assistant and voice of the Echo has also become smarter and it can now give additional information and even play Jeopardy.
Now, Amazon has announced that Alexa will be able to narrate Kindle books from the Echo. The feature called Kindle Books by Alexa will use the same text-to-speech technology that allows it to read news articles and calendar events among others, so the voice might sound a little more robotic than the professional voices from audiobooks. Users might use voice commands such as “Alexa, read [Kindle book title]”, and it will start reading. If users already started reading or listening to a book, Alexa will remember the title using Amazon’s Whispersync technology, so they can just say: “Alexa, read my Kindle book”, and the narration of that particular book will start where it was left off. Users can also ask Alexa to “pause” and “resume” the narration, go “forward” or “backward” in the content of the book using the appropriate voice commands.
Users can ask Alexa to read any book from their Kindle library, books purchased from the Kindle Store, titles borrowed from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or books from Kindle Unlimited. Users can also use the companion app to browse their collection or available books from the other services and see which of them can be read by Alexa. Unfortunately, users can’t tell Alexa to start the narration of a specific chapter unlike in their Audible service, but let’s keep in mind that this new feature is completely free to use and the companion app will allow to skip content in 30-second intervals.