We are excited to announce some Alexa Developer Portal updates and new SSML (Speech Synthesis Markup Language) audio tag support. All of these updates are available for you to use immediately within your own Alexa skills. SSML audio tags enable you to deliver short audio streams intermingled with TTS (text-to-speech) output in response to a customer's requests to your skill. The primary use case for this feature is to allow you to include short audio clips along with TTS in the response and to stream voice responses instead of TTS where appropriate. The length of these tags is short, and should not be used for streaming music, podcasts or similar audio playback. This update also brings the ability to delete test skills that you no longer need.
Deleting an Existing Development Alexa Skill
Based on your feedback, we have created a new “Delete” button on any skills in your Alexa developer console that are in the “Development” stage. Skills that are in “Certification” or which are “Live” will NOT be able to be deleted. This gives you the ability to clean up any test skills you have had inside the developer portal.
To remove a skill, simply navigate to the Alexa developer portal skills list and click the delete button next to skill you wish to remove.
You will then be prompted to confirm the deletion and once accepted the skill will be removed.
Using SSML Audio Tags in Your Alexa Skill
You can now embed short recorded audio within your Alexa skill’s response by including the URL of an MP3 file. The Alexa service then plays the MP3 while rendering the response.
This can be useful in several scenarios:
- Providing a response using a voice associated with your brand, rather than the standard Alexa voice. For example:
- A skill for news headlines might use audio of a recognizable reporter reading back a news headline.
- A skill that ties in with a video game might use the voice of a game character to deliver pre-recorded responses.
- Providing sound effects in addition to normal text-to-speech responses, especially in games and other skills designed for entertainment.
- Incorporating recognizable jingles and other sounds to help users associate the skill with your brand.
Note that this feature is not intended for uses such as music. For details about the limitations and requirements for the MP3 files you can use, see Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) Reference.
To include pre-recorded audio, you provide your response in SSML and use an <audio> tag to specify the URL of the MP3 file. For example, note the following SSML:
Welcome to Car-Fu. <audio src="https://carfu.com/audio/carfu-welcome.mp3" />
You can order a ride, or request a fare estimate. Which will it be?
When Alexa renders this response, it would sound like this:
Alexa: Welcome to Car-Fu. (the specified carfu-welcome.mp3 audio file plays)
Alexa: You can order a ride, or request a fare estimate. Which will it be?"
The audio files you include within your service’s response must be very short to ensure a good user experience. You can include up to five audio files in a single response. The combined total time for all audio files in a single response cannot be more than ninety (90) seconds.
For details on converting existing mp3 files into a format Alexa can understand, please read our knowledge base article here.
Ready to Get Started?
You may also want to check out these additional Alexa developer resources:
Free Alexa Video Training from AWS re:Invent 2015
Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)
Alexa Developer Forums
Getting Started with the Alexa Skills Kit
Alexa Skills Kit Voice Design Handbook
Alexa Skills Kit Submission Checklist