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November 02, 2017Mike Maas
We’re excited to share that as of today all customers in the US, UK, and Germany have access to the new smart home consumer experiences announced last month - including Routines, Alexa-enabled groups, and device viewing and control in the Alexa App. Now is a great time for you to update your smart home skill to fully support the experiences with your smart home products.
Routines, Alexa-enabled Groups, and the device control page in the Alexa app give your customers additional ways to control your smart home products. Customers can use Routines to automate a series of actions using a single voice command of their choice. For example, a customer could say “Alexa, it's bedtime”, to turn off the lights, lock the door, and turn off the TV. With Alexa-enabled Groups, customers no longer need to remember the specific name of a smart device or group of smart devices to control them. As shown below, a customer can now include their Echo devices in specific smart home groups, enabling Alexa to act more intelligently on requests. For example, when a customer walks into the living room, they can say, “Alexa, turn on the lights” rather than “Alexa, turn on the living room lights.” Finally, customers can now view and control the state of their compatible lights, in-wall switches, plugs, door locks, and thermostats in the Alexa App.
The updated Smart Home Skill API released last month makes it easy for you to support these experiences with your devices.
First, you can allow customers to easily check the current state of your lights, plugs, in-wall switches, locks, and thermostats in the Alexa App, wherever they are. Using the updated API, you can now report state for each of these device types, not only when requested by Alexa, but also proactively, whenever your device changes state. For example, you can tell Alexa that your smart lock is locked both after a successful “Alexa, lock the front door” command and after a manual lock operation using a key or code. The older API supports device state query for thermostats and locks only, and does not allow you to proactively notify Alexa of changes.
Second, you can make it easy for customers to find and control your devices in the Alexa App by reporting the correct display category, manufacturer name, and description during discovery. Alexa uses this information in the settings and control pages for each device. For example, the display category you report for a device determines the iconography used, the format of its control page, and its device group. The manufacturer name and description you report will display in the device settings page.
While customers can continue to use skills built on the existing API, you should update your Smart Home Skill now to fully support the new experiences and to be ready for future enhancements. You can learn about the updated API by attending the Fundamentals of the Updated Smart Home Skill API webinar.
“We worked closely with Amazon as they updated the Alexa Smart Home Skill API and added new features such as proactive state reporting,” said Andy Rothfusz, Director API Integrations with August Home. “Our updated skill for August Home cameras and locks using the new API gives customers the flexibility to use Routines, Groups, and the Alexa App with our products.”
August, Belkin, Ecobee, Emerson, Honeywell, LIFX, Lutron, Nest, Philips, Schlage, and TP-Link have already updated their skills, and more are on the way.
If you provide devices certified via the Works with Amazon Alexa (WWAA) program, you must ensure your applicable products are compatible with the updated Smart Home Skill API and the new features by December 31, 2017 to retain eligibility to use the WWAA badge. For more information about eligibility for the Works with Amazon Alexa program, please review the Works with Amazon Alexa Program Guidelines.
Update your smart home skills and products to support the new customer experiences, and submit them for certification as soon as they’re ready.
For more information, check the following resources: