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Alexa is getting a major upgrade – but you might have to pay for it

Amazon is planning to launch a revamped version of Alexa, known as “Banyan”, which will feature AI-powered capabilities and will be offered as a monthly add-on to Prime memberships for $5 to $10 per month.

A modern kitchen counter with a smart Echo speaker with blue LED lighting, a metal cocktail shaker, and two glasses containing limes and mint leaves.
Credit: Amazon

Amazon has been hard at work on a significant upgrade to Alexa, its voice assistant, which could bring the tech more in line with competitors like ChatGPT.

The project, known internally as “Banyan,” will reportedly introduce two versions of Alexa: “Remarkable Alexa” and a replacement for the current version, which will be powered by AI as well.

“Remarkable Alexa” is the more advanced of the two, with capabilities like performing multiple tasks from a single prompt – think drafting an email and ordering food delivery. It will also have improved conversational skills, so you won’t have to repeat “Alexa” with each command.

The AI will even learn your daily routines to automate smart home tasks, like turning on your coffee maker when your alarm goes off. To control devices throughout your home, you’ll need to buy additional Alexa-enabled hardware.

Wait, what? How much?

Here’s the catch: Amazon plans to offer “Remarkable Alexa” as a monthly add-on to Prime memberships, potentially costing $5 to $10 extra per month. That could put your total Prime cost at $19.99 to $24.99 per month.

It’s unclear if users will be willing to pay for features that are currently free, especially since there may not be a special tie-in with Amazon’s $139-per-year Prime membership.

Details on the second version of Alexa are scarce, but it will apparently replace the current “Classic Alexa” and also use AI.

There’s reportedly a lot of pressure within Amazon to get this Alexa revamp right. The project is seen as a “desperate attempt” to revitalize the service, which has never turned a profit.

The goal is to launch “Remarkable Alexa” in August, but depending on how development goes, the timeline and pricing could change, or the project could be scrapped.As with any leak, take this with a grain of salt.

Would you pay an extra $15 a month to use a souped-up version of Alexa? Have any thoughts on this? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at kevin@knowtechie.com or find him on Mastodon or Post.



  1. Chuck

    June 25, 2024 at 3:44 pm

    Asking Alexa a question other than the current weather is like asking a 1 year old to explain the theory of relativity. So, no, I wouldn’t pay extra for anything Alexa related when it can’t even answer any easy questions with a degree of accuracy.

    • Kevin Raposo

      June 27, 2024 at 3:37 pm

      Extremely accurate statement. True story, there was a whole WSJ piece on this very exact thing. Literally, internal research showed that most Amazon customers use their Alexa only to check the weather.

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