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Showing posts by Jeff Blankenburg

September 15, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Use the console.log() statement to gain insights into how users are interacting with your skill.

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September 01, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

One of the most common questions I get from new Alexa developers is: "I'm getting an error that says, 'The remote endpoint could not be called, or the response it returned was invalid.' How do I fix it?" The good new is you already have all the tools you need.

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August 31, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

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We’re excited to announce that, starting today, Alexa supports kid skills in the US. You can now publish fun and educational skills for kids under the age of 13.

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July 13, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Today we are excited to introduce entertainment capabilities as part of the Smart Home Skill API. Now customers can easily control cloud-connected TVs, AV Receivers, IR Hubs and even connected speakers without invoking a specific skill.

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July 13, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Today we announced that we now enable companies to control entertainment devices with the Smart Home Skill API in the Alexa Skills Kit. Here is an overview of how to connect your TVs, AV Receivers, IR Hubs, and even connected speakers to Alexa.

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July 07, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

We have made Entity Resolution even easier to use by adding the ability to create and manipulate your slot synonyms and IDs via our Skill Builder user interface.

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June 22, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Today, we are happy to announce that you can enable customers to view live video feeds from their smart home cameras on Echo Show with the Smart Home Skill API.

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June 21, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Today, we are incredibly excited to announce a new feature for Alexa developers to take advantage of: entity resolution. This enables you to define synonyms for the Alexa Service to resolve rather than having to figure this out in your code.

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May 23, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

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We are excited to announce a new addition to the Smart Home Skill API, the ability to define appliance categories. By defining appliance categories, both you and your customers can easily identify the types of smart home devices with which they are interacting.

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April 05, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Have you ever wondered how your skill usage is trending month over month? How many unique customers you have? When your peak times are?

You can now explore the answers to these and other data-driven questions using our new skil metrics dashboard. 

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April 05, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

New Device Address API and Metrics Dashboard

We are excited to announce two new features that will help you build skills that are even more engaging. Incorporate location information into your interactions using the new Device Address API. And gain deeper insights into your skill’s usage with the new metrics dashboard.

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March 17, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

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We all hold interesting data in our heads. Maybe it's a list of all the action figures we played with as a kid, specific details about the 50 U.S. states, or a historical list of the starting quarterbacks for our favorite football team. When we're with friends, sometimes we'll even quiz each other on these nuanced categories of information. It's a fun, interactive way to share our knowledge and learn more about our favorite topics. 

You can now bring that experience to Alexa using our new quiz skill template. You provide the data and the number of properties in that data, and Alexa will dynamically build a quiz game for you.

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December 20, 2016

Jeff Blankenburg

We all have our favorite places. It may be your childhood hometown, an exotic place you visited, or even your college town. Regardless of why a city is your favorite, we all have our favorite spots to visit and want to tell others about, and that’s exactly what this new skill template helps you do.

This new template uses AWS Lambda, the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), and the Alexa SDK for Node.js, in addition to the New York Times Search API for news. We provide the business logic, error handling, and help functions for your skill, you just need to provide the data and credentials.

For this example, we will create a skill for the city of Seattle, Washington. The user of this skill will be able to ask things like:

  • “Alexa, ask Seattle Guide what there is to do.”
  • “Alexa, ask Seattle Guide about the Space Needle.”
  • “Alexa, ask Seattle Guide for the news.”

You will be able to use your own city in the sample provided, so that users can learn to love your location as much as you do. This might also be a good opportunity to combine the knowledge from this template with our Calendar Reader sample, so that you can provide information about the events in your town, as well as the best places to visit.

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

  • Create a city guide skill - This tutorial will walk Alexa skills developers through all the required steps involved in creating a skill that shares information about a city, and can search for news about that location.
  • 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 published Alexa skill. This tutorial includes instructions on how to customize the skill and submit for certification. For guidance on designing a voice experience with Alexa you can also watch this video.
  • 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 watch this video.
  • Manage state in an Alexa skill - Depending on the user’s choices, we can handle intents differently.
  • Get your skill published - Once you have completed your skill, this tutorial will guide you through testing your skill and sending your skill through the certification process so it can be enabled by any Alexa user. You may even be eligible for some Alexa swag!
  • Interact with the Bing Search API.

Get started and build your first—or next—Alexa skill today.

Special Offer: Free Hoodies

All published skills will receive an Alexa dev hoodie. Quantities are limited. See Terms and Conditions.

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October 27, 2016

Jeff Blankenburg

To introduce another way to help you build useful and meaningful skills for Alexa quickly, we’ve launched a calendar reader skill template. This new Alexa skill template makes it easy for developers to create a skill like an “Event Calendar,” or “Community Calendar,” etc. The template leverages AWS Lambda, the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), and the Alexa SDK for Node.js, while providing the business logic, use cases, error handling and help functions for your skill.

For this tutorial, we'll be working with the calendar from Stanford University. The user of this skill will be able to ask things like:

  • "What is happening tonight?
  • "What events are going on next Monday?"
  • "Tell me more about the second event."

You will be able to plug your own public calendar feed (an .ICS file) into the sample provided, so that you can interact with your calendar in the same way. This could be useful for small businesses, community leaders, event planners, realtors, or anyone that wants to share a calendar with their audience.

Using the Alexa Skills Kit, you can build an application that can receive and respond to voice requests made on the Alexa service. In this tutorial, you’ll build a web service to handle requests 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 after certification.

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

  • Create a calendar reader skill - This tutorial will walk first-time Alexa skills developers through all the required steps involved in creating a skill that reads calendar data, called "Stanford Calendar".
  • 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 published Alexa skill. This tutorial includes instructions on how to customize the skill and submit for certification. For guidance on designing a voice experience with Alexa you can also watch this video.
  • 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 watch this video.
  • Get your skill published - Once you have completed your skill, this tutorial will guide you through testing your skill and sending your skill through the certification processso it can be enabled by any Alexa user.
  • Interact with a calendar (.ics file) using voice commands.

Get started and build your first—or next—Alexa skill today.

Special Offer: Free T-Shirts

All published skills will receive an Alexa dev t-shirt. Quantities are limited. See Terms and Conditions.

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