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Showing posts tagged with Alexa Skills Kit

March 30, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

Makers-training-02_blog.png

By Sam Morgan, Head of Education at Makers Academy

Editor’s note: This is part two of our Makers Academy series for Ruby developers. Learn more about this free training on the Alexa Skills Kit and read the first module.

Welcome to the second post in our series designed to take you from zero to hero using Alexa with Ruby. In our first module, we:

  • Set up a simple Alexa skill
  • Set up a tunneled Sinatra application
  • Hooked the two together to say "Hello, world"

In this module, we'll handle variable data from users using slots. This module introduces:

  • Slots
  • Custom slot types

This module uses:

  • Sinatra
  • Ruby's JSON library
  • Ruby's HTTP library
  • The Numbers API

We’re going to build a fact-checking mechanism so users can ask for facts about particular numbers. Here are some things users will be able to ask Alexa:

Alexa, ask Number Facts to tell me a trivia fact about 42.

Alexa, ask Number Facts to tell me a math fact about 5.

Users will be able to choose:

 

  • a number (any number!)
  • a fact type 

Alexa will respond with an interesting fact about that number that is specific to that type of fact.

[Read More]

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.
[Read More]

March 27, 2017

David Isbitski

AWS-Credits_blog.png

We recently announced a new program that makes it free to build and host most Alexa skills using Amazon Web Services (AWS). The program aims to help you build engaging skills by giving you access to more AWS infrastructure beyond the AWS Free Tier. Here are five ideas for using AWS services to unlock your skill's potential.

[Read More]

March 23, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

Makers-training_blog-01.png

By Sam Morgan, Head of Education at Makers Academy

Editor’s note: This is part one of our Makers Academy series for Ruby developers. Learn more about this free training on the Alexa Skills Kit in this blog post

Welcome to the first module of Makers Academy's short course on building Alexa skills using Ruby. Amazon's Alexa Skills Kit allows developers to extend existing applications with deep voice integration and construct entirely new applications that leverage the cutting-edge voice-controlled technology.

This course will cover all the terminology and techniques required to get fully-functional skills pushed live to owners of Alexa-enabled devices all around the world using Ruby and Sinatra.

What's in This Module?

This module contains a basic introduction to scaffolding a skill and interacting with Alexa. This module introduces:

 

  • Intent schemas
  • Utterances
  • Alexa communication paradigm
  • Tunneling a local application using ngrok over HTTPS
  • Connecting Alexa to a local development environment
  • Alexa-style JSON requests and responses 

During this module, you will construct a simple skill called “Hello World.” While building this skill, you will come to understand how the above concepts work and play together. This module uses:

 

  • Sinatra
  • Ruby's JSON library

 

 

Let's get started! 

[Read More]

March 17, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Quiz_Tutorial_ASK.png

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.

[Read More]

March 16, 2017

Aaron Tang

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The Alexa skills catalog is home to more than 10,000 skills thanks to our amazing developer community. As most you know, every Alexa skill submitted to Amazon undergoes a certification process prior to being published in our public catalog.

To help you navigate the certification process, let me share its main purpose and requirements, the top issues we're seeing, and some helpful reference material. 

All certified skills meet our requirements for policy, security, functionality, and voice interface and user experience. These certification requirements help us maintain a high quality bar for our catalog. It also ensures that the third-party skills our customers consume on Alexa-enabled devices are safe and work well.

These certification requirements are specified in our technical documentation and certification checklist. We encourage you to save this link and reference it often as you develop your skills and prepare to submit them to Amazon. Doing this should...

[Read More]

March 16, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

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We’re pleased to announce our collaboration with Makers Academy on a new Alexa Skills Kit training course for Ruby developers.

Makers Academy is a leading web developer bootcamp based in London, UK. Its highly-selective, full-time program teaches the principles of software craftsmanship. Makers Academy has graduated over 700 students into their dream jobs as junior developers.

We believe natural user interfaces such as those based on speech represent the next major disruption in computing. Now is a great time for developers to take advantage of this new form of interaction and to learn to build voice-first experiences for Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon Echo. Makers Academy’s mission is to teach students the most used technologies in today's marketplace, and we’re excited to team up to prepare you for the future of voice computing.

[Read More]

March 15, 2017

David Isbitski

AWS-Credits_blog.png

Amazon today announced a new program that will make it free for tens of thousands of Alexa developers to build and host most Alexa skills using Amazon Web Services (AWS). Many Alexa skill developers currently take advantage of the AWS Free Tier, which offers one million AWS Lambda requests and up to 750 hours of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) compute time per month at no charge. However, if developers exceed the AWS Free Tier limits, they may incur AWS usage charges each month.

Now, developers with a live Alexa skill can apply to receive a $100 AWS promotional credit and can also receive an additional $100 per month in AWS promotional credits if they incur AWS usage charges for their skill – making it free for developers to build and host most Alexa skills. Our goal is to free up developers to create more robust and unique skills that can take advantage of AWS services. We can’t wait to see what you create.

[Read More]

March 03, 2017

Michael Palermo

Today we are happy to announce lock control and query, a new feature in the Smart Home Skill API now available in the US, with support for the UK and Germany coming soon. This feature is supported with locks from August, Yale, Kwikset, and Schlage as well as hub support from SmartThings and Wink. Now any developer targeting devices with locking behavior can enable customers to issue a voice command such as, “Alexa, lock the front door.” In addition, developers can build in support for customers asking for the status of a smart locking device with a voice command such as, “Alexa, is the front door locked?” LockAPI_blog.png

Much like the recently announced thermostat query feature, the lock query feature simplifies development efforts by enabling specific voice interactive experiences straight from the Smart Home Skill API. This is accomplished under the new Alexa.ConnectedHome.Query namespace.

Developers can report errors using the same namespace. These errors are then used to guide the customer with the proper corrective actions. It’s crucial that developers return meaningful and correct errors so that customers can feel confident about the status of their locks. For example, if the smart locking device is unable to provide a stateful value because a door is open, developers should report this in their directive response as shown below.

[Read More]

March 02, 2017

Zoey Collier

In 2012, brothers Maurice and Marcel Eisterhues built a smartphone app for their father. TorAlarm—German for GoalAlert—had a simple purpose: to help dad keep up with the scores for his favorite football teams. (That’s soccer for readers in the USA.) Toralarm_brothers.jpg

What started as a fun project turned into a true opportunity for the two German entrepreneurs. TorAlarm’s popularity grew steadily, until in 2014, the brothers and their father founded a company with the same name. Today, TorAlarm is among Germany’s most popular apps for tracking the scores and schedules of football matches across the country,with over a million users in Germany alone.

Maurice and Marcel knew instantly voice would be the next step in TorAlarm’s evolution when they saw the upcoming launch of Amazon Echo in Germany.

“We were both totally amazed when we first saw the Amazon Echo,” says Maurice. “We’re always interested in new technology, so we decided very quickly we wanted to be part of this launch.”

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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.

[Read More]

February 27, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

Champions_John_blog.pngA few months ago we introduced Flask-Ask, a new Python framework for rapid Alexa skill development created by Alexa Champion John Wheeler. Today, due to popular demand, John shares how you can deploy your Alexa skills built with Flask-Ask to AWS Lambda, a service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers, which you can use to build serverless applications. Check out John’s technical tutorial below, connect with him on Twitter, and hear more about Flask-Ask in the Alexa Dev Chat podcast episode 10.

 

In our first post, Flask-Ask and ngrok were used to rapidly create a memory game skill and test it locally. This post shows how to use Flask-Ask with the Zappa framework to quickly deploy skills to AWS Lambda. As of this writing, AWS Lambda supports Python 2.7. This tutorial assumes Python 2.7 is installed on your Windows, Mac, or Linux system.

 

Zappa, a serverless Python framework, uses a combination of AWS components to emulate the WSGI environment on Lambda that Python web frameworks require. Since Flask-Ask is a Flask extension and Flask requires a WSGI environment, Zappa is the perfect fit for deploying Flask-Ask skills to AWS Lambda. To demonstrate, we'll create an Alexa skill that uses the GitHub API to return how many stars, watchers, and forks a repository has.

Let's get started!

[Read More]

December 02, 2016

Marion Desmazieres

The name of Harrison Kinsley may not ring a bell but if you’re into Python programming you’ve probably heard the name “Sentdex”. With over 125,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and about 800 free tutorials on his associated website, Harrison has become a reference for learning materials on Python programming.

Today, we’re excited to share a new Alexa skills tutorial for Python programmers available for free on PythonProgramming.net with companion video screencasts to follow along. This three-part tutorial series provides the instructions and code snippets to build an Alexa skill in Python that goes to the World News subreddit, a popular feed on news aggregator Reddit, and reads the latest headlines. To follow along, you will need an Alexa-enabled devicengrok or an https enabled server, and an Amazon Developer account.

In this tutorial, you can expect to learn:

Get started with the Alexa tutorial series here. For more Python tutorials, head to Harrison’s website.

Happy coding!

Marion

Learn more

Check out these Alexa developer resources:

 

November 16, 2016

Zoey Collier

Magic mirror, on the wall—who is the fairest one of all?

Probably the most memorable line from Disney’s 1937 classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it may soon become a household phrase again. Modern-day magic mirrors are taking a number of forms, from toys to high tech devices offering useful information to their masters. Now, Darian Johnson has taken that concept an enormous step farther.

Darian, a technology architect with Accenture, has worked in software solution design for 17 years. Today he helps clients move their on-premise IT infrastructure into the cloud. With a recent focus solely on Amazon Web Services (AWS), it’s only natural other Amazon technologies like Alexa would pique his interest.

One night, Darian was pondering what he might build for Hackster’s 2016 Internet of Voice Challenge. He was surfing the web, when he happened on an early concept of a Magic Mirror and realized he could do even better than that. He did. In August 2016, Darian’s new Mystic Mirror won a prize in the Best Alexa Voice Service with Raspberry Pi category.

A smarter mirror with the Alexa Voice Service

Darian says his morning routine consists of running between bedroom and bathroom, trying to get ready for work. He doesn’t have an Amazon Echo in either, but he does, however, have mirrors there. That’s another reason why an Alexa Voice Service (AVS)-enabled mirror made sense.

He set his budget at a mere $100. That covered a Raspberry Pi (RPi), a two-way mirror, a refurbished monitor and speaker, some wood planks and a few other assorted items. He determined that his device would:

  • Give the mirror-gazer access to all the skills available through Alexa
  • Provide unique visual capabilities in the mirror face via a custom Alexa skill
  • Display information only for a finite amount of time before it fades away (to make it mystical—and because Darian is light-sensitive when he sleeps)

You can build your own Mystic Mirror using the details on the Hackster site. But it was his software and Alexa that brought it to life.

Darian decided to voice-enable his Raspberry Pi, microphone and speaker with the Alexa Voice Service (AVS). That meant the Mystic Mirror’s master would have access to the built-in power of Alexa and over 4,000 third-party skills, developed using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). With just a word, they could control smart home devices, ask for a Lyft ride, play music from Amazon Prime accounts and much more. Best of all, since Alexa is getting smarter all the time, the mirror’s capabilities would constantly evolve, too.

[Read More]

September 20, 2016

Marion Desmazieres

Today, we’re excited to announce a new, free video course on Alexa development by A Cloud Guru, a pioneering serverless education company in the cloud space. Instructed by Ryan Kroonenburg, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Community Hero, the “Alexa development for absolute beginners” course allows beginner developers and non-developers to learn how to build skills for Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon Echo.

Here is what you can expect to learn in this two-hour course in 12 lessons:

  • This beginner guide to Alexa will walk you through setting up an AWS account, registering for a free Amazon Developer account, and then building and customizing two Alexa skills with templates available on GitHub.
  • The course also shows Mac users how to use the interactive story tool to create amazing interactive stories.
  • Finally, you will learn how to create your own mp3 files, where you narrate, and how to add background music and sound effects. You will see how to convert mp3 files to an Alexa-friendly format, put them on Amazon S3, and then reference them in the graphical user interface (GUI) using Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML).

“All in all, it's a great course and it’s even accessible to non-developers, mums and dads who haven’t used Alexa or Amazon Web Services before! We made this available to the general public and give them an everyday use case for AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, and S3. We can’t wait to see what people build for Alexa.” – Ryan Kroonenburg, instructor and founder of A Cloud Guru.

Watch the course for free today.

Dive Deeper with Alexa Development

A Cloud Guru also offers an extended version of the course. Cloud Solution Engineer Nick Triantafillou will teach you how to build your own Alexa device with a Raspberry Pi, a MicroSD card, a speaker, a USB microphone, and Alexa Voice Service. Learn how to make Alexa rap to Eminem, how to read Shakespeare, how to use iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets with Alexa, and more. This five-hour video course in 47 lessons also covers additional skill templates available on GitHub to customize and build new capabilities for Alexa.

Watch the extended course.

Check out these Alexa developer resources:

 

 

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