Expanding its voice-enabled capabilities, Amazon is rolling out the Announcements feature across all of Alexa-compatible devices.
Launched in 2018, the feature lets users send a short voice message to Alexa-enabled devices that are part of the same network with a single voice command.
Amazon says that Announcements is “available for certified Alexa built-in products to implement and new ones that pass the provided self-tests and certification”, The Verge reported on Saturday.
Users can send out their announcements by saying “Alexa announce that/tell everyone/broadcast” that would be announced via any Alexa-compatible device including Amazon Fire TV Cube, Sonos speakers, Facebook’s Portal and others.
The feature initially rolled out to the Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Show and Echo Spot devices.
In yet another lawsuit, Amazon has been sued by a Massachusetts woman, who on behalf of her 10-year-old daughter and children from eight other states, is seeking class-action status to sue the e-commerce giant.
Filed in a Federal court in Seattle, the lawsuit alleges Amazon of saving ‘voice prints’ of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa-enabled smart devices, Vox news reported on Friday.
The woman has alleged the e-commerce giant for illegally recording children and adding them to “a massive database of billions of voice recordings containing the private details of millions of Americans”.
The complaint claims that children cannot consent to be recorded and do not comprehend the “potentially invasive uses of big data by a company the size of Amazon” and that they “use Alexa without any understanding or warning that Amazon is recording and voice-printing them”, the report said.
The complainant says she bought an Alexa Echo Dot device in 2018 and was not given reason to believe that her child would be recorded.
“Customers set up their Echo devices and we give them easy-to-use tools to manage them, including the ability to review and delete the voice recordings associated with their account,” the report quoted an Amazon spokesperson as saying.
The spokesperson also highlighted a company blog-post that discusses ‘Amazon FreeTime’ — a dedicated service launched in 2012 to help parents manage the ways their kids interact with technology, including limiting screen time.
However, this is not the first time that the e-commerce giant was accused of violating kids’ privacy with Alexa.
Earlier in May, US Senators and a group of 19 consumer and public health advocates accused Amazon for recording and saving conversations that take place around its smart speakers, urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate into the case.
Fighting privacy concerns and data collection suspicions, later in May, Amazon added support for new voice commands to let users ask Alexa to delete previous voice recordings.
To ensure security and privacy of users, the company is also launching ‘Alexa Privacy Hub’ which is supposed to offer an easy way to learn how Alexa works and find privacy controls.