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Amazon Echo Challenges Zoom, Google Meet With Group Video, Audio Calls

Amazon Inc. made good on its previously announced plan to allow group audio- and video-conference calls on its Echo devices, The Verge reported.

The feature will work on Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, the U.K. and parts of Europe, the report noted.

The service appears to present a direct competitor to Zoom and Microsoft Teams in the market to provide group calls to relatively small groups of people. Zoom and Teams can serve much larger groups of callers.

In the U.S., according to The Verge, Echo 8 users will be able to join Zoom calls with the device. Conveniently, Echo users will be able to create custom-named groups such as “family” for easy connection to multiple people at once.

Earlier this week, Amazon introduced what it calls “Live Translation” through its Alexa service. Using the offering, each caller in a two-party conversation can speak in one language and have the other participant hear the conversation in another. “Alexa will automatically identify which language is being spoken and translate each side of the conversation,” Amazon wrote in a news release announcing the service.

Amazon added in the announcement: “To improve the fluency of the translation and its robustness to spoken-language input, we are also working on adapting the neural-machine-translation engine to conversational-speech data and generating translations that incorporate relevant context, such as tone of voice or formal versus informal translations. Finally, we are continuously working on improving the quality of the overall translations and of colloquial and idiomatic expressions in particular.”

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