Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge
Amazon has introduced a new novelty voice for Alexa this festive season: Santa Claus. After enabling the skill with the command “Alexa, enable ‘Hey Santa,’” you can ask St. Nick to sing songs, crack jokes, tell stories, or just respond to typical Alexa commands like setting timers or playing music in his more festive voice. Judging by the customer reviews left on the Alexa skill’s Amazon page, the feature appears to have been released earlier this month.
There are of course several Christmas-themed questions to ask Santa. Asking “Hey Santa, am I naughty or nice?” will prompt a series of questions to work out whether you’re getting presents or coal on the big day, and the big man will also happily tell you about his reindeer or favorite food when asked. Just preface a command with “Hey Santa” and Alexa will respond in the new voice.
I was most surprised by just how many typical Alexa commands the Santa voice is able to handle. It’ll happily recite Pi to over a dozen decimal places when asked, and can also play music from Spotify (trust me, hearing Santa say “This is Slipknot from Spotify” is hilarious). There are limits — Santa will happily flip a virtual coin but he won’t roll a virtual dice, for example — but it’s easy enough to repeat a command for Alexa.
Amazon is no stranger to re-skinning Alexa with new voices, and has previously drawn upon celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson, Shaq, and Melissa McCarthy. Santa has also previously appeared in a more limited capacity. But unlike Alexa’s celebrity voices, Alexa’s Santa skill is available free of charge. Just say “Alexa, enable ‘Hey Santa’” to get started.