Amazon is set to discontinue Alexas celebrity voices.
The voices of Samuel L Jackson, Shaquille ONeal and Melissa McCarthy, is no longer available for purchase.
Amazons spokesman, Eric Sveum confirmed to The Verge in a statement, saying, After three years, were winding down celebrity voices Customers will be able to continue using these voices for a limited time, and can contact our customer service team for a refund.
The report says thatusers will be able to hear Jacksons voice through 7th of June while McCarthy and Shaqs voices will be supported till 30th of September this year.
Amazon introduced Samuel L Jacksons voices in 2019, using Amazons neural texttospeech model to generate responses that are more fun rather than the prerecorded ones.
McCarthy and Shaqs voices were brought on board in 2021.
The feature adds the personality of the celebrities to Alexa and lets users use the hey (the celebrity name) command to ask questions,ask for a joke or even a story, all in the voice and character of the celebrity chosen.
The voices are limited in the scope of commands they can respond to and they do not work with shopping lists, reminders and skills.
At launch, the cost of the voices was at 0.99 and it has increased over time to 499
While the reasons for taking this fun feature off Alexa was not clearly stated, the Insider suggests that the company has plans to rework Alexa usingits own Large Language Model (LLM) to make Alexa more proactive and conversational.
It may also be part of the cost cutting exercise embarked on by the company earlier this year, which had involved the layoffs that impacted 18,000 employees, 2,000 of which, according to Amazons hardware chief are workers in the division in charge of Alexa and Echo products.
Maybe the celebrity voices are becoming too expensive to lisence.
Not only are the voices no longer available for purchase, it will also no longer be supported on Alexa devices.
Users who have already paid for this feature can ask for refunds by contacting the customer service.