Amazon releases Canadian French language for Alexa developers

Alexa will soon be able to speak Canadian French and developers interested in using the language for their Skills or hardware can now request early access by invitation from Amazon.

Amazon says hardware developers can request the Canadian French preview of its Alexa Voice service in an Oct. 10 blog post. Skills developers will simply be able to select Canadian French language as an option when using the Alexa Skills Kit – no invitation required. Canadian developers are being incentivized to create new Skills this month with a chance to win a Fire TV Stick.

Alexa in Quebec founder Guillaume Dufour confirmed that he could switch a Skill currently in development to work in Canadian French. The proponent of Alexa’s technology runs the user group in the province, and he’s looking forward to the support of his Mother Tongue.

“So what about Alexa’s voice? Very nice so far, I used the test simulator which is quite limited, but it gave me a first chance to hear it,” he wrote in an email. “People who already own Alexa devices in Quebec that I know are very happy of the news!.”

IT World Canada previously reported in August that Canadian French would be “coming soon” for Alexa. Now it seems that update is right around the corner. At present, the only way to buy an Echo device in Quebec is directly from Amazon.

Amazon launched Alexa to the Canadian market in November 2017 along with its Echo and Echo Dot hardware. But it could only speak Canadian English at launch, leaving about one-fifth of the population that identifies as having a Canadian French mother tongue out of the picture. Competitor smart speaker Google Home launched in June 2017 supporting both Canadian English and French. Apple’s HomePod with the Siri smart assistant launched to Canada June 18 with Canadian English, saying Canadian French would be made available “later this year.”

Amazon launched Alexa in France at the beginning of June along with French language support. A Wired story details how Amazon used workers at french fulfillment centres to train Alexa’s AI model. But that Parisian French dialect isn’t usable in Quebec.

Still, there’s no date from Amazon about a wider consumer release of Canadian French for Alexa.

Apple’s HomePod still awaits its Canadian French support, promised to be rolled out this year.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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