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Published On: Tue, Mar 6th, 2018

Amazon’s WordPress plugin brings voice tech to blog posts

Earlier this month, Amazon officially announced the long-awaited Amazon Polly plugin. The Amazon Polly plugin aims to leverage Amazon Web Service’s artificial technology to enhance the voice experience for users. The Polly plugin, developed in partnership between Amazon and WP Engine, transforms text copy to auditory words. This brings a lifelike speech element to online reading, converting standard blog posts to mini podcasts. With this, website owners are able to leverage their posts and capitalize on people who prefer to listen on the go.

 

photp/ Wren Handman via Pixabay

The Amazon Polly plugin is available in the WP Engine Solution Center, and is an open-source integration for Amazon’s text-to-speech functionality with WordPress. The plugin integrates seamlessly, making it simple for all WordPress content creators (WordPress already powers nearly 30% of the Web) to easily convert their content to speech. Users can access the audio version of content directly on a blog post, or through Pollycast, an Amazon podcast portal.

 

Polly isn’t just your average text-to-talk technology. It uses machine learning technologies to deliver the most lifelike speech possible. For example, it understands that certain words, like “live”, are pronounced differently depending on the usage and context. This makes voices sound much more natural than other text-to-talk applications.

 

Currently, it supports 29 languages and features 47 male and female voice types. Other advanced capabilities include the ability to whisper, create speech marks, change pitch, and add a timbre effect. These technological elements are similar to those of Alexa, whose speech is highly advanced. This flexibility means that you could use different voices for different headlines, bylines, or quoted text, making your blog posts read more cohesively from post to post.

 

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

Though the Polly technology has existed for the past few years, it is only available to those running WordPress on their own infrastructure, whether through a Linux VPS or other type managed WordPress hosting. It also works with WordPress sites running on Amazon Web Services. However, because the process does require a bit of manual configuration, managed hosting is preferred. For the technically-minded, there are step-by-step installation instruction on the plugin’s page, as well as on the Amazon developer blog.

 

The Polly plugin comes at a time when podcasts are on the rise. Washingtonian Magazine considered 2015 to be “the year of the podcast,” and it’s been going strong ever since. A study conducted by Edison Research found that in 2016, more than 57 million people were actively listening to podcasts, up 23% from the previous year.

 

Additionally, voice-driven devices like Amazon’s Echo are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s even more important for content creators to build voice-driven experiences. Brands that use WordPress will also be able to easily create iTunes podcasts based on the website’s WordPress taxonomy, which uses tags based on authors and categories to reach listeners interested in specific topics.

Publishers, whether it’s a news site, blog or a brand that publishes content, have to meet audiences where they are — across devices, across media,” Mary Ellen Dugan, Chief Marketing Officer at WP Engine said in a statement. “The Amazon Polly plugin for WordPress, tested and optimized on the WP Engine Digital Experience Platform, is a tremendous opportunity for customers to capture their audience’s attention when it’s convenient for them to take a moment to consume content – waiting in line, on the train, or grabbing a bite.”

One study conducted by WP Engine found that 70% of consumers between the ages of 15-59 believe that within the next five years, we’ll interact with the Internet with voice and movements more than keyboards.

One of the frontrunners for Polly is POLITICO, a news site. POLITICO has already began using Polly to publish two daily podcasts for their political newsletters s Brussels Playbook and London Playbook. With Polly, they’re able to reach their audience in new and exciting ways. Other Amazon Polly customers include Duolingo,Y-Cam, and Haptik. However, after the WordPress plugin, more publishers and content creators will be added to the company’s roster of users.

 

Author: Ravi Kumarr Gupta

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