Thaddeus Ternes, a veteran iOS app developer, didn’t have an Amazon Echo when he built the mobile application Lexi, which uses the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) and Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) to create voice-driven experiences for users on a mobile device.
A self-described Apple fan, Ternes had read a lot about the Echo and Alexa, but wasn’t sure the product would be worth the investment. That is, until he built his first prototype.
“I had a cursory overview of how Alexa and skills worked when I got started with Lexi,” Ternes said. “But I didn’t have an Echo and I wasn’t ready to look past its price point in the beginning.”
Ternes decided to build a mobile prototype for himself as a way to interact with Alexa before buying an Echo. And what started off as a personal project quickly turned into an app his friends and professional network wanted to test out and buy.
“It started as a quick and dirty prototype—I had a functional version built pretty quickly. Once I got a few skills setup, it became apparent that Alexa was much better than any voice service I had ever seen,” Ternes said. “Anytime something voice-related comes out, it’s always been a disappointment. But Alexa is finally the real thing—it’s here, it works, and it’s usable by everyday people.”
He began working on his Lexi project in February 2016, and he had to overcome the challenge of being the first Alexa-enabled mobile app.
“Amazon had done the hard part—they had the piece that handles the natural language understanding (NLU) and voice recognition aspects, the growing number of skills that constantly improve user experience—and for a third-party developer that’s perfect.”
From there, it was a matter of how quickly Ternes could get Lexi into customers’ hands: “I knew there had to be other people out there creating a mobile experience. But what I think makes Lexi such an attractive option to users is its focus on the Alexa service—Lexi isn’t trying to add that to something else.” Read More →