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Showing posts by Dean Bryen

April 27, 2017

Dean Bryen

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Today, we are excited to announce that developers in the UK and Germany can now use speechcons to build more creative voice experiences with UK English and German words and phrases.

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March 28, 2017

Dean Bryen

Today, we are happy to announce Alexa developers can now add skills to the Flash Briefing on Alexa in UK English and German using the Flash Briefing Skill API, a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit.Flash_briefing_UK_DE_blog.png

With the Flash Briefing Skill API, you no longer need to build a voice interaction model to handle customer requests for the news. When you configure your compatible RSS feed and build skills that connect directly to Flash Briefing, customers will be able to easily access your content via the Alexa Flash Briefing, which delivers pre-recorded audio clips and text-to-speech (TTS) updates.

The availability of Flash Briefing skills in local languages means that you can now deliver truly localized content to customers via voice. Here are a few ideas to get started with Flash Briefing skills:

  • Create a skill with news from any provider that authorizes you to use their content, and provides a public API.
  • If you’re a blogger you can configure your RSS feed to build a skill for your readers.
  • Podcast host? Simply host the audio for your podcast and provide a JSON feed to allow your listeners to hear your latest episode as they get ready for the day.
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March 02, 2017

Dean Bryen

In September of last year, we announced that Amazon Echo and Alexa were coming to the UK and Germany. Since the announcement, German customers and developers in the exclusive invite only program have been receiving their devices and German developers have brought hundreds of new skills to Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).DE-hoodie_march2017.jpg

Now that Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices are available for purchase in Germany,  developers can reach even more customers with their Alexa skills.  

As a developer, you can teach Alexa new German skills using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). ASK is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation and code samples that make it easy to create voice experiences and enable you to get started quickly. 

If you would like to create something from scratch, our templates are a great place to start. Or if you already have an English (US) or English (UK) skill, you can add German to it. Check out this post to learn how to create multi-language skills.

Get a free Alexa Developer Hoodie

Developers who publish a German Alexa skill in March can get a free Alexa hoodie.  Learn more about how to get your hoodie.

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October 28, 2016

Dean Bryen

We recently announced support for Alexa in two new languages, English (UK) and German. In order to easily add all three supported languages to your skills, we have updated the Alexa SDK for Node.js. We’ve also updated our Fact, Trivia and How To skill samples to include support for all three languages using the new SDK feature. You can find these updated samples over at the Alexa GitHub.

Fact – This skill helps you to create a skill similar to “Fact of the Day”, “Joke of the Day” etc. You just need to come up with a fact idea (like “Food Facts”) and then plug in your fact list to the sample provided.

Trivia – With this template you can create your own trivia skill. You just need to come up with the content idea (like “Santa Claus Trivia”) and plug in your content to the sample provided.

How To – This skill enables you to parameterize what the user says and map it to a content catalog. For example, a user might say "Alexa, Ask Aromatherapy for a recipe for focus" and Alexa would map the word "focus" to the correct oil combination in the content catalog.

If you are not familiar with the existing SDK or have not previously created a skill, you can reference the fact skill tutorial or read the SDK Getting Started Guide before continuing.

How it works

Let’s take a look at the new version of the fact skill, and walk through the added multi-language support. You can find the entire skill code here.

The resource object

The first thing that you will notice is that we now define a resource object when configuring the Alexa SDK. We do this by adding this line within our skill handler:

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October 07, 2016

Dean Bryen

If you’ve already created your first Alexa Skill, you may be using local environments, the AWS CLI, and other DevOps processes. This blog post is for advanced developers who want to level up skill creation by adding some automation, version control, and repeatability to skill deployments.

In this post we're going to programmatically create our skill backend using AWS CloudFormation. CloudFormation is an AWS service that enables you to describe your AWS resources as a JSON file, these JSON files can later be ‘executed’ to tear up and tear down your AWS environments. This gives us a number of benefits, including version control and repeatability. You can read more about AWS CloudFormation in general over in the AWS developer docs here. To put this into context, when looking at the Alexa Skills Kit Architecture below, the resources in the red box below are what we will be creating within our CloudFormation Template.

 

The Template

The CloudFormation template is a JSON object that describes our infrastructure. This will consist of three components.

Parameters - Where we define the input parameters we want to inject into our template, such as ‘function-name.

Resources - The AWS resources that make up our skill backend, Such as the lambda function.

Outputs – Any information that we would like to retrieve from the resources created in our CloudFormation stack. Such as the lambda function ARN.

The template that we will create in this tutorial can be used as a starting point to create the backend for any of your Alexa skills.

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September 14, 2016

Dean Bryen

Amazon is happy to announce that Alexa, Echo, and the all-new Echo Dot are now available for customers in the UK and Germany. Developers and hardware makers around the world can create Alexa skills for UK and German customers with the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) today or integrate Alexa into their hardware with the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) starting in early 2017. Popular European brands have already announced they’re building Alexa skills, including JustEat, the BBC, The Guardian, Jamie Oliver, MyTaxi, Hive, Netatmo, National Rail and Deutsche Bahn. There are over 3,000 skills for Alexa in the US, and now developers can extend their experiences to more customers in Europe. If you publish a skill for the UK or Germany by October 31, 2016, you’ll receive a free, limited edition Alexa t-shirt.

Introducing the Echo and Echo Dot

Today we also introduced an all-new version of the groundbreaking Echo Dot for under $50, so you can add Alexa to any room in your home. Both Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are voice-controlled speakers designed entirely around your voice—they’re always ready, hands-free, and fast. Alexa is the brain behind Echo and Echo Dot—just ask, and she’ll answer questions, play music, read the news, set timers and alarms, recite your calendar, check sports scores, control lights around your home, and much more. With far-field voice control, Echo and Echo Dot can do all this from across the room. Echo and Echo Dot will start shipping in the UK in the coming weeks. In Germany, Echo and Echo Dot are available by invitation for customers who want to help shape Alexa as she evolves—the devices will start shipping next month.

How to Build an Alexa Skill

It’s easy to get started. Explore our simple tutorials to learn how to build a skill quickly: trivia, flash cards, instructions, facts, decision tree and game helper. If you want to build a multi-language Alexa skill read our technical documentation to learn how to create a skill in all language models (US English, UK English, and German). If you’re already an Alexa developer, you can enhance your existing skill by extending it to support both UK and DE language models.  

Get Technical Help from the Alexa Team

Join us at an Alexa event or in our webinars and office hours in the coming weeks. These sessions are an opportunity for you to have your questions answered by an Alexa Evangelist or Alexa Solutions Architect.

Webinars

We have scheduled three introductory live webinars.

ASK the Expert Sessions

We host ASK the Expert sessions to help answer your questions. Join the next one for live Q&A with an Alexa Evangelist.

Technical staff from the Alexa team will be speaking at a number of upcoming events in the UK and Germany. Come join us to get hands-on training, learn about voice design and meet other local developers.

UK

  • SmartSummit (London) – September 21 -22 Register Now
  • Amazon Appstore Summit (London) – October 4  Register now
  • Hello Alexa (London) – October 10  Register with code “HiLondon.” Seats are limited.
  • Hello Alexa Bootcamp (London) – October 11  Register now
  • Hack Sheffield – October 15-16  Register now
  • Brumhack – October 29-30 Register now
  • Alexa Devs Meetup (London) October 4  Learn more

Germany

  • Berlin Bootcamp – September 21-22 Register now
  • Hello Alexa (Berlin) – October 6 Register with code “HalloBerlin.” Seats are limited.
  • Hello Alexa Hackathon (Berlin) – October 7  Register now
  • Jacobschack – October 15-16  Register now
  • Alexa Devs Meetup (Berlin)  Learn more

Special Offer: Free Developer T-Shirts for UK and DE

We are offering a free Alexa Dev t-shirt to developers who publish an Alexa skill between September 14, 2016 and October 31, 2016. There are custom, limited edition designs for the UK and Germany. Quantities are limited. See terms and conditions.

 

September 14, 2016

Dean Bryen

Today, we announced that Amazon Echo and Alexa is coming to the UK and Germany. With the announcement comes two new language models: English (UK) and German. You can start developing for these new languages today.

Now that Alexa is multi-lingual, this tutorial shows you how to deliver the right content to your customers in each of the supported regions- all from a single code base.   This post assumes you have some familiarity with JavaScript/Node.js and the Alexa Skills Kit. To learn more about using the Alexa Skills Kit, please watch this video. For guidance on designing a voice experience with Alexa, please see this video.

In this tutorial, you’ll build a web service to handle notifications from Alexa and map this service to a skill in the Amazon Developer Portal, making it available on your device and to all Alexa users upon certification.

After completing this tutorial, you’ll know how to do the following:

  • Create a multi-language skill - This tutorial will walk first-time Alexa skills developers through all the required steps involved in creating a basic skill. Your skill will support English (UK) and German language models. You can also add support for the US English language model.
  • Understand the basics of VUI design - Creating this skill will help you understand the basics of creating a working Voice User Interface (VUI) while using a cut/paste approach to development. You will learn by doing, and end up with a functioning Alexa Skill.
  • Use JavaScript/Node.js and the Alexa Skills Kit to create a skill - You will use the template as a guide but the customization is up to you. For more background information on using the Alexa Skills Kit please see this video.

Let's Get Started

Step 1. Setting up Your Alexa Skill in the Developer Portal

Skills are managed through the Amazon Developer Portal. You’ll link the Lambda function you created above to a skill defined in the Developer Portal.

1.  Navigate to the Amazon Developer Portal. Sign in or create a free account (upper right). You might see a different image if you have registered already or our page may have changed. If you see a similar menu and the ability to create an account or sign in, you are in the right place.

2.  Once signed in, navigate to Alexa and select "Getting Started" under Alexa Skills Kit.

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