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Get the most out of your voice-enabled Fire TV app

Get the most out of your voice-enabled Fire TV app

Mario Mancia Feb 24, 2022

So you’ve gone through Catalog Ingestion and voice-enabled your Fire TV app using VSK. Now what? Here are some tips to ensure that customers can successfully use voice to discover and engage with your content.

Maintain your Catalog

VSK relies heavily on your catalog data. If your catalog does not include up-to-date, complete, and accurate information for your content, Alexa may not recognize that your app contains the content and you may miss out on traffic to your app. Make sure to provide as much accurate data for as much of your catalog as possible to ensure your content is discoverable through Alexa. Check out the Catalog Ingestion Best Practices for more info.

Amazon sends ingestion reports via email whenever your catalog is updated so make sure to keep an eye out for those. Check with your Amazon Appstore representative if you want to confirm which email address the notifications are being sent to.

Avoid voice cliffs

Using your voice to engage with technology is a magical experience. On some devices, you don’t even have to pick up a remote. Interrupting the hands-free experience by forcing customers to pick up their remote is known as a ‘voice cliff’. Once customers have to pick up the remote, they are less likely to continue engaging with the app using their voice. One example of a voice cliff is exposing a Profile Selection screen. If a customer requests to watch a movie on your app, it’s best not to have them select a user profile as that will require them to pick up the remote and add that additional friction. Instead, try starting playback with the last or most used profile. Test common use cases in your app to look for voice cliffs and come up with ways to allow customers to stay in the voice experience as much as possible.

Create mechanisms to log failures

You might discover that not all voice commands will be handled as expected. There are many different root causes for this and you will want to understand the ‘Why’. It is strongly recommended to create and integrate mechanisms to log and track down any failures you might come across. Depending on your app and service architecture, this can be done at different points within your service and can include various scopes. An ideal approach will include data that will enable you to answer the following questions:

  • Did the directive from Alexa actually arrive in the App?
  • If yes, did the payload include the data needed to resolve the request? (e.g. correct Content ID)
  • If yes, do you have other logs that include details why it was not handled as expected?

In case the answer to any of the questions is No, please reach out to your Amazon representative and ask for support.

Prepare for new releases

Alexa does not automatically know the names of new shows or movies and may need some training. To make sure that customers are able to request new releases by voice, the best approach is to provide new titles in your catalog well ahead of the release date (1 week recommended). To ensure the content does not appear in the search early, use the WindowStart and MetadataAvailabilityDate elements in your catalog. Notify your Amazon contact that you have new content coming out at least 1 week prior to release, so they can test and train Alexa accordingly.

Educate your customers

Let your customers know that your app is voice-enabled and encourage them to try it out. One possibility is to provide a tutorial that shows them what they can do with their voice. This will help your customers get in the habit of using voice to engage with your content and is also a great opportunity to promote your content. Have a new show coming out that you want people to watch? Use that show in your tutorial examples! Showing the tutorial screen at first app launch, as well as having it accessible in your Settings/Help section is recommended. Also, mention that your app is Alexa-enabled in your app description so your customers know that they can engage with your app using their voice.
You are not limited to educating your customers on-device. If you have a Help section on your website, consider adding a help article on how to use Voice with your Fire TV app.

Video App Voice Tutorial Slide

In conclusion

Following these practices, you can eliminate customer friction and ensure that your customers will have a delightful experience using voice to engage with your app on Fire TV. Voice commands allow your customers to spend more time enjoying your content, and less time pressing buttons on a remote. So take your app for a spin and see how much you can control with your voice.


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