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March 30, 2018Brian Crum
Today, we’re excited to introduce new additions to the Video Skill API – recording, launcher, and state reporting. Some or all of these new capabilities are supported by skill updates coming soon from video service providers such as DISH, Verizon, TiVo, and DIRECTV.
These additions are built on top of the Video Skill API and enable Alexa to interface with video content and services so customers can easily find and consume video content without invoking a specific skill. Through the Video Skill API, Alexa is aware of the video devices and services your customer has or subscribes to. You create skills that connect your applications directly to Alexa’s video capabilities so that customers can control your content—without lifting a finger.
Customers are increasingly using voice interfaces as a hands-free way to manage their lives. By using Alexa’s built-in video content controls, customers on millions of Alexa devices only have to "ask" for your content and it's at their command, often becoming a daily habit. By integrating with the Video Skill API, you will make it easier for your existing customers to engage with your video content in their home.
The new recording capability of the Video Skill API enables customers to set and manage DVR recordings with their voice. Now a customer can simply ask, “Alexa, record the Mariners game,” and their live TV provider service will set the recording.
Launcher capability provides customers an easy way to launch apps and access commonly used menu and navigation shortcuts such as Guide, Home, DVR, and more. Now a customer can ask, “Alexa, launch Prime Video,” to navigate directly to the Prime Video app on their TV, and to move within a video provider’s controlling interface, customers can ask, “Alexa, go to DVR.”
State reporting allows you to send state updates to reflect your customers’ video playback status and enable implicitly targeted customer commands to accurately target your skill. For example, customers can simply say, “Alexa, pause,” without the need to explicitly invoke your skill’s name.
The Video Skill API is available at the same top level that Alexa uses to build video experiences on Fire TV. This means your customers can open their favorite app and then use their Amazon Echo or other Alexa device to issue commands like “Alexa, find comedies,” “Alexa, tune to HBO,” or “Alexa, play episodes of Modern Family.” Customers can see the commands fulfilled instantly on their video devices.
The Video Skill API also includes a mechanism to enable catalog ingestion for improved accuracy and session management for request targeting based on real usage. The API offers simplified logic to handle requests to any one of potentially multiple video skills that a customer has set up, so your customers can make simple requests like “Alexa, play Manchester by the Sea,” and Alexa will know what to do.
Companies like DISH, Verizon, TiVo, and DIRECTV are already creating experiences using the Video Skill API to voice enable their customers’ video experiences.
“DISH customers love the convenience that our Alexa compatibility brings to their home entertainment,” said Niraj Desai, DISH vice president of product management. “With Amazon’s updates to the Video Skill API, DISH has the ability to deepen our Alexa integration and continue working toward providing our customers with a completely Hands-Free TV experience.”
“By integrating with Amazon’s Video Skill API, TiVo is making it even easier to control entertainment with your voice,” said Ted Malone, VP of Consumer Products and Services, TiVo. “Simply ask Alexa to change the TV channel using either the channel name or number. Pause, fast forward or rewind any of your live TV, DVR recordings and popular Internet streaming services.”
For more information on how to create a video skill, about the Video Skill API, and the Alexa Skills Kit, check out the following resources: