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This week’s What’s New with Alexa newsletter talked about a new feature where you can control the rate of speed of Alexa’s speaking. This is an interesting feature and we had experimented with this in the Ubi about five years ago. We were using Ivona (acquired by Amazon and now Amazon Polly) and could allow users to change the rate of speech both by voice as well as through an interface.

I don’t think this is a game changer. It’s better to try to have shorter, less chatty responses than faster ones.

I did see the difference that speed can make when listening to audiobooks. Typically, I like to listen at the same rate as the recording. However, I recently wanted to re-listen to a book and found that listening at about 33% faster had no impact on comprehension. It was also the case that I wasn’t listening to the book for fun. Otherwise, I would have liked the long pauses as they lead to more drama.

Faster is better but not through rate of speech increases. Better to be pithier.

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