'Remarkable' Alexa with AI could cost $5 to $10 a month — here's what it will do

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Not to be left behind by Apple, Google, and Microsoft, Amazon is overhauling its voice assistant to add artificial intelligence, and could charge users a monthly fee of $5 to access the enhanced capabilities, according to a report by Reuters.

The new, enhanced Alexa represents a major reworking of the assistant, which debuted 10 years ago and has been built into every smart speaker that Amazon has released since then. However, adoption and use of Alexa has stalled in recent years, as most Amazon Echo owners have been content to use it primarily for things such as setting timers, requesting music and controlling smart home devices.

The new AI initiative is codenamed "Banyan," and the new voice assistant has been dubbed "Remarkable Alexa," according to the report. The company has been working towards an August deadline, which would make sense if Amazon wanted to thoroughly test it so it could reveal it at its annual product announcements, which are typically held in September. 

Last September at Amazon's Devices & Services event, the company announced it was adding generative AI to Alexa, but little more has trickled out since then. The only major AI announcements have been Rufus, an AI shopping assistant, and a new Fire TV AI feature, which allows you to more easily search for programming you like. 

Just this past November, Amazon laid off hundreds from its Alexa division, as it redirected its energies to AI.

What will the new AI Alexa do?

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The Alexa currently in use now would be replaced with one enhanced with AI. A basic tier would be free, but if you wanted to ask more complex queries, it would cost $5 per month; Amazon has reportedly toyed with a $10/month tier, too. 

The paid Alexa tier would enable you to use Alexa to do such things as composing and sending emails as well as ordering dinner from Uber Eats with a single prompt.

A paid version of Alexa was hinted at in a Business Insider report in January, but there was no information about pricing at that time.

The paid tier would enable you to use Alexa to do such things as composing and sending emails as well as ordering dinner from Uber Eats with a single prompt. The new Alexa will also offer more personalization, according to the Reuters story. Additionally, the new, smarter Alexa could learn a person's smart home routines intuitively, rather than them having to program a particular routine in the Alexa app. 

Whatever it has planned, Amazon has its work cut out for it, as iOS 18 will roll out officially this fall with Apple Intelligence, which will incorporate ChatGPT into iPhones, iPads, and Macs. 

Google also announced a raft of new AI features at Google I/O in May, and we expect that Samsung will also announce some AI features for its devices at Galaxy Unpacked in July. 

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Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.