Amazon Alexa can now talk to half a billion people in India as the assistant gets support to speak in Hindi.

Hindi is spoken by roughly half a billion people in India, whilst English is only spoken by 10% of the Indian population. Yet Amazon’s intelligent smart assistant Alexa has, until now, only spoken in and understood English in the country.

This week at a press conference in New Delhi, Amazon announced announced that Alexa now support Hindi. So Hindhi speakers will be able to talk to Alexa, give it commands, and ask questions whilst Alexa will be able to respond and understand, all in Hindhi.

They’re hoping that in the next few months they will be able to update Alexa even further to understand multiple languages in one household. Allowing each person who uses their Alexa-enabled devices to speak in the language they prefer with the assistant.

Company executives said that they have been in the process of bringing Hindi voice commands to Hindi for more than a year. They said that there were a lot of challenges, like the context and culture of the language, that they had to overcome before releasing it to the public.

After launching Hindi language support for the Amazon website last year the company saw it’s Hindi usage grow 6 times. Vice President and Head Scientist at Alexa AI, Rohit Prasad said: “The adoption of Alexa in India has been phenomenal.

“A lot of how people in India engage with their smartphones and internet services is different from those of the people in the United States. For instance, in India, people often use the name of an actor instead of the singer or the band when looking for a particular song.”

500 Alexa skills are already available in Hindi. To change Alexa’s language it’s as simple as going to the Alexa App, and changing language from the settings.