Amazon Developer Blogs

February 24, 2017

Becky Young

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Our annual Amazon Developer Day at GDC is only two days away. From free tools to innovative monetization opportunities, Amazon Developer Day at GDC 2017 is the A2Z for developer success on a shoestring budget.

We kick off the morning with Amazon Appstore Developer Evangelist, Mike Hines, sharing tips for creating promotions that work and wrap the day up hearing from King.com on how to reduce time and effort to operate games on multiple platforms at once. You also won’t want to miss our lunchtime panel, How to Survive and Thrive on No Budget.

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February 23, 2017

Eric Choy

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Train Jam is off to a great start! Before leaving the station in sunny, warm Chicago, we all gathered at the Bottom Lounge to pick up our Train Jam info packets and meet with one another, including Train Jam organizers, Adriel and John.

The best way to connect with other gamers is to share our creations from previous game jams. We had a blast playing each other’s games! Text Quest, in particular, caught my eye. It’s a brilliant idea to use text as the artwork.

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February 23, 2017

David Isbitski

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Today we’re happy to share that developers have published over 10,000 skills, making Alexa even better for customers. We’ve been blown away by the innovation and activity in the Alexa developer community. To put it in perspective, we’ve seen a 3x increase in the number of skills available since September 2016 alone. We’ve come a long way in the short time that the Alexa Skills Kit has been available for developers, and we’ve seen a wide range of unique skills that allow customers to do everything from reorder their favorite morning coffee, stay mindful through meditation, control smart home lighting or check their bank account balance.

In November we unveiled a new way for customers to discover Alexa skills and explore the breadth of the Alexa skills catalog. With Alexa skills on Amazon.com, customers can enable skills directly through the website and leave reviews, just like other items on Amazon. Many skills have hundreds of reviews and are rated 4-star or higher by customers. We’ve also added ways for customers to enable and find popular skills, just using their voice.

To celebrate this 10k milestone of skill selection, here are a few Alexa skill highlights:

  • Beat the Intro has the honor of being the 10,000th skill published. It’s a music game by Musicplode Media that tests your knowledge and love of music.
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February 23, 2017

Zoey Collier

Andy Huntwork has worked at Amazon for over 10 years, the last three as a principal engineer. He’s developed front-end and backend services for technologies ranging from websites to payment systems and everything in between. But when the Amazon Echo came out in 2015, he saw a new doorway open. Alexa was an exciting way to bring voice-based experiences to the world, and Andy wanted to part of it.

“So I joined the Alexa team,” Andy says, “and immediately started playing around with the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).” Only a few months after Amazon released ASK, Andy and his wife, Laura, created their first skill. The skill recited public domain works, like Abraham Lincoln’s speeches and The Jungle Book, but the Huntworks wanted to build something more interactive and engaging.

Laura recalls wondering, “What would you ask Alexa to open that’s exciting, even magical? Wouldn’t it be fun to open a magic door?”

From that simple idea grew The Magic Door, an adventure with Alexa guiding you through a growing number of original, interactive stories. Today, The Magic Door skill is a sophisticated adventure framework, hosting 10 adventure storylines, 30,000 spoken words, numerous character voices and hundreds of sounds effects.

Walking through the Magic Door

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To enter a faraway land of magical creatures, perplexing riddles and hidden prizes, just say Alexa, open The Magic Door. Suddenly, you’re off on an adventure with Alexa as your personal guide.

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February 22, 2017

Mario Viviani

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In our upcoming webinar, Build and Test Web-based Apps for TV using Amazon Web App Starter Kit, Amazon Technology Evangelist, Mario Viviani will share how easy it is to deploy a fully fledged TV app on Fire TV using WASK.  

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February 21, 2017

Mario Viviani

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Today we are excited to announce that the all-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, the most powerful streaming media stick available, is coming to the UK and Germany. The next generation Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote will also be available in Japan this April.

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February 20, 2017

Serena McIntire

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Here's what you missed last week on the Amazon Developer blog.

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February 20, 2017

Jen Gilbert

Guest post by Tom Hudson; Tech Director @thirteen23. Tom writes about new and emerging platforms and other tech-related stuff.

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When I started my job as Technical Director at thirteen23, the owner Doug Cook and I were sitting in a room chatting about projects. At some point during the meeting he said “Alexa, is it still raining outside?” Uh what!? Previous to this I had never seen or heard of an Amazon Echo. Somehow I completely missed it. Needless to say, after the meeting I went back to my computer and immediately bought one. Since then I’ve been hooked on it, writing custom skills and taking advantage of all the integrations. I wrote a 3-part series on my experience building Alexa skills, and thirteen23 has played around with custom integrations such as controls for connected speaker systems. 

In a couple of months my coworker Nikki Clark and I will be teaching a workshop at SXSW 2017 on how to design for and build an Alexa skill. If you’re in Austin this March for the SXSW Interactive Festival, you should sign up!

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February 17, 2017

Michael Palermo

Today we are happy to announce support for thermostat query, a new feature for Alexa skills developed using the Smart Home Skill API. The feature is now available in the US, with support for the UK and Germany coming soon. With thermostat query, customers can issue a voice command to an Alexa-enabled device, such as the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, and hear Alexa say the response. For example, a customer with a single thermostat could say, “Alexa, what is the temperature in the house?” and Alexa would respond with the current inside temperature. This complements thermostat commands that already allow customers to set the temperature value.

This new feature simplifies development efforts by enabling specific voice interactive experiences straight from the Smart Home Skill API. In the past, smart home skill developers had to create two skills (one for smart home, the other for custom voice interactions to allow querying data) to provide this overall experience.

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February 17, 2017

Zoey Collier

When Amazon first introduced the Echo, Nick Schwab was intrigued. He’d always loved voice commands in his car, but hNickSchwab_small.JPGe wasn’t sure he wanted to buy another cool device just yet. Then the Echo Dot came out, and once again, Nick couldn’t resist a good deal. He ordered his own Dot, dug into the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). Right away, he started working on Bargain Buddy, an Alexa skill to relieve him of a daily surf to find daily deals. 

Two days after the Bargain Buddy was certified, Nick received his Echo Dot in the mail—his first Alexa device. That’s right, he developed, tested and released his first Alexa skill, before he even had his first Echo Dot.

That was early in 2016. These days, Nick has become a force to be reckoned in the Alexa developer community.

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