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October 23, 2015

David Isbitski

In August, we started giving customers an early look at some of the Alexa skills built by developers like you. If you own an Alexa-enabled device, such as Amazon Echo, you have probably seen some of these skills become available within in your Alexa app. Today we are announcing automatic publishing for any of your Alexa skills that have passed certification. This update makes it quicker and easier for you to add new voice capabilities to Alexa that customers can begin to enable with their own Alexa devices.

If you're thinking writing a new skill for Alexa, now is the time to submit it for certification. Once certified, your skills will be available to customers on Alexa-enabled devices, like Amazon Echo and Amazon Fire TV, just in time for the holiday season. If this is your first time using the Alexa Skills Kit, we recommend you review the following materials in this order:

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October 21, 2015

David Isbitski

We are excited to announce that all of the Alexa sessions from AWS re:Invent 2015 are now freely available online. These sessions includes everything you need to get started as an Alexa developer, real world tips and advice, as well as first hand Alexa Skill creation experiences told directly from Capital One and BMW.

Alexa AWS re:Invent 2015 Session Recordings

What follows is the full day of Alexa session recordings and links to download the slides.

(MBL301) Creating Voice Experiences Using Amazon Alexa [Watch Video][Download Slides]
David Isbitski, Principal Evangelist, Alexa and Echo

Alexa is the speech and personal assistant technology behind Amazon Echo. Today you can use Alexa to listen to music, play games, check traffic and weather, control your household devices such as Philips Hue and Belkin WeMo, and lots more. Alexa offers a full-featured set of APIs and SDKs that you can use to teach her new skills and add her into devices and applications of your own. In this talk, intended for software and hardware developers interested in voice control, home automation, and personal assistant technology, we will walk through the development of a new Alexa skill and incorporate it into a consumer-facing device.

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October 16, 2015

David Isbitski

Experiences designed around the human voice will fundamentally improve the way people use technology. The Alexa Fund—named for Alexa, the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo—provides up to $100 million in investments to fuel voice technology innovation from developers, manufacturers, and start-ups of all sizes.

Today Amazon announced a new recipient of the Alexa Fund, Invoxia. Invoxia is a France-based tech company and creator of Triby, a new Wi-Fi connected communication device that lives in your kitchen. Triby magnetically sticks to your fridge and can play music, make calls, and display messages. Invoxia will work with the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service to integrate Alexa into Triby, so customers can simply say things like “Alexa, ask Triby to call mom.” Triby will be the first third-party product to integrate Alexa with far-field voice capabilities. Learn more about Invoxia and Triby at http://www.invoxia.com/en.

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October 14, 2015

Emily Roberts

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo, a new category of device designed around your voice.  We announced the availability of the Alexa Skills Kit at the end of June, and thousands of developers have started building skills to expand Alexa’s capabilities.

More Features for Developers

Since June, we’ve continued to roll out new features and documentation to help you build more easily. Most recently, we launched a submission checklist to clarify our certification process and help you get your skill certified more quickly. This is the most recent in new Alexa Skills Kit releases for developers. In September, we launched account linking, service simulator, custom slot types and SSML support.

  • Get Certified Faster: Our submission checklist includes an overview of policy and security requirements as well as recommended functional, voice interface and user experience tests.
  • Easily Link Accounts: Allow customers to link their existing account with your service to Alexa by simply visiting the skills tab in the Alexa smartphone app.
  • Test Skills without a Device: Test your skill service without an Alexa-enabled device with the new service simulator by inputting text and view the service input and output on the screen.
  • Create Your Own Custom Slots: Reduce your required utterances by creating custom slots and sets of values for items that are not covered by Amazon’s built-in slot types.
  • Influence Alexa’s Inflection: Support for Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML), gives you additional control over how Alexa generates speech from your text response.
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October 06, 2015

Rohan Mutagi

We recently launched the Alexa Lighting API extending Alexa’s built-in lighting skill so she can securely control cloud-connected lighting and switch devices. This new API enables you to write code that translates between Alexa’s built-in lighting skill and your lighting device’s proprietary control systems. Once a customer turns on the functionality, they can control these new devices simply by saying phrases like, “Alexa, turn on the living room lights” or "Alexa, turn off the fan." 

The Alexa Lighting API can be used to control any cloud-connected device that can be turned on/off or have its brightness adjusted. Discoverability is easy! Devices that you enable automatically show up in the Alexa companion app in the Connected Home settings screen. Wink and Samsung SmartThings have already built this functionality for their home automation hubs using the Alexa Lighting API, and any new devices you integrate will show up right alongside those!

In order to get things started a customer will need to connect their desired device to your skill adapter in the Alexa companion app. This process is handled via standard OAuth providers, like Login with Amazon, to make the experience as simple as possible.

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October 01, 2015

David Isbitski

We are excited to announce two new Alexa Skills Kit features have been made available for you to use immediately within your own Alexa skills. This update gives you the ability to create custom slots and values for items that are not covered by Amazon’s built-in slot types. If you have created an Alexa skill before, you may have often relied on the LITERAL slot type for most of your intents. This resulted in a large amount of sample utterances being required for Alexa to consistently understand your requests. With custom slot types you can now define your own slot types resulting in far fewer sample utterances.

With this update we have also added support for Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) allowing you to control how Alexa generates speech from your skill’s text responses. This includes Alexa’s inflection, pauses, periods, interpretation (like how to specify digits, dates or times) and pronunciation. Need her to pause after a long sentence? Now you can!

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September 30, 2015

Jesse Freeman

The London Amazon Appstore Developer Summit is designed to provide you with insights into the Amazon eco-system, emerging user interfaces that are driving new user behaviors, and new business models that are opening up opportunities for customers and the developer community. The event will include developer guest speakers, from disruptive start-ups to established consumer brands who are at the forefront of innovation in their market segments.   

Here are is a sneak peek of some of the key items on the agenda:

Bringing Apps and Games to the Living Room

In this session, we cover what's needed to bring your Android app or game to Fire TV. We walk you through controller support for a game scenario (buttons and analog sticks), controller support for UI (selection, moving between menu items, invoking the keyboard), and how to account for the form factor (overscan, landscape, device and controller detection). By the end of this session, you’ll be able to understand what you need to do if you want to build or modify your own app to work on a TV.

An introduction to using Amazon Web Services and the Alexa Skills Kit to Build Voice Driven Experiences

Come learn firsthand how to build for Amazon Echo and Amazon Voice Service enabled devices using the Alexa Skills Kit and Amazon Web Services. This session will walk through using Amazon Echo and how to build your first Alexa Skill using both AWS Lamda and AWS Beanstalk. We'll also take a look at how to monitor your new Alexa Skill using AWS CloudWatch and how to submit it for certification so it's available to customers later this year.

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September 16, 2015

David Isbitski

Experiences designed around the human voice will fundamentally improve the way people use technology. The Alexa Fund—named for Alexa, the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo—provides up to $100 million in investments to fuel voice technology innovation from developers, manufacturers, and start-ups of all sizes.

Today we announced that Petnet is the latest recipient of funding from the Alexa Fund. Petnet is the creator of the SmartFeeder, an app-enabled intelligent feeding appliance, which allows pet owners to manage and tailor feeding times and portions to ensure overall health and well-being. The SmartFeeder integrates with pet food vendors to automate replenishment and intelligently helps pet owners stay aware of their pet’s feeding habits. The smart appliance keeps owners informed of proper feeding portions and delivers insights to them about compatible ingredients specific to their pet’s age, weight and level of activity.

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September 13, 2015

David Isbitski

AWS re:Invent 2015 is a learning conference with breakout sessions covering a broad range of topics and technical depth. All sessions will be delivered by subject matter experts, engineers, or expert customers who can share their real world experiences and lessons learned.  



This year’s conference will feature three tracks of content to help mobile app and game developers build apps, engage customers and monetize more effectively. We will also feature Amazon Alexa in the new #IoT track showcasing what partners like Capital One and BMW have built as well as a two-hour hand-on workshop where you can learn how to build Skills for Alexa on real devices.

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September 09, 2015

David Isbitski

 
What is it?
 
A free event that will provide an introduction to using Amazon Web Services with the Alexa Skills Kit to build voice driven experiences on Amazon Echo and other devices. The day will also include an open hackathon providing you time to get your hands on building a new Alexa Skill.
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September 04, 2015

David Isbitski

We are happy to announce two frequently requested Alexa Skills Kit features are now live! Starting today you can take advantage of Account Linking allowing customers to easily link their accounts with yours and a new Service Simulator for testing your skill.

What is Account Linking?

With the Alexa Skills Kit, you can now easily allow your customers to link their existing accounts with you, to Alexa. To link accounts, customers visit the skills tab in the Amazon Alexa app and enable your skill. They are then prompted to log in to your site using their normal credentials. You authenticate the customer and generate an access token that uniquely identifies the customer and link the accounts.

Setting Up Account Linking in Your Alexa Skill

To connect an Alexa user with an account in your system, you need to provide an access token that uniquely identifies the user within your system. The Alexa Skills Kit uses an OAuth 2.0 implicit grant authorization to obtain this access token. The resource server and authorization server are both part of your system and the client seeking access is the Alexa service. Once an Alexa user grants the Alexa service access to the resource server, the Alexa service stores the access token. This token is then included in requests sent to your skill.

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September 04, 2015

David Isbitski

I recently sat down with fellow evangelist Jeff Barr and we chatted about all things Alexa. We covered the Amazon Echo, the new Alexa Skills Kit and creating new skills with the AWS Lambda compute service. If you’ve been looking to get started with Alexa this podcast episode only runs about 23 minutes and is a great place to begin.

You can listen or download the episode right here.


You can subscribe to the AWS Podcast using the following links:

Subscribe via RSS
Subscribe via iTunes
Subscribe via Stitcher
Follow @AWSPodcast on Twitter

You may also want to check out these additional Alexa developer resources:

An Introduction to the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)
Free Video Training - An Introduction to Amazon Echo and the Alexa Skills Kit
Creating an Amazon Echo Adventure Game with the Alexa Skills Kit
Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)
Alexa Voice Service (AVS)
Alexa Fund


-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

August 27, 2015

Corey Badcock

Experiences designed around the human voice will fundamentally improve the way people use technology. Since introducing Amazon Echo, we’ve heard from developers, manufacturers, and start-ups of all sizes who want to innovate with voice. The Alexa Fund--named for Alexa, the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo--provides up to $100 million in investments to fuel voice technology innovation.

Amazon today announced two new recipients of the Alexa Fund, Musaic and Rachio. Musaic and Rachio are the latest additions to the growing portfolio of Alexa Fund recipients, and join the seven previously funded companies announced in June, including: Orange Chef, Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, Dragon Innovation, MARA, and Mojio. 

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August 21, 2015

Rohan Mutagi

* Important * - On 5-Apr, we announced the Smart Home Skill API, the public, self-service version of the Alexa Lighting API, which was introduced as a beta in August 2015. As part of the beta program, we worked with companies including Nest, Ecobee, Sensi, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink in order to gather developer feedback, while extending Alexa’s smart home capabilities to work with their devices. If you’d like to build a smart home skill, learn more about the Smart Home Skill API here.

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo, a new category of device designed around your voice.  

We have been receiving a lot of requests for an easy way to extend Alexa’s built-in lighting skill to control more lighting and switch devices, and today we’re excited to announce the launch of the Alexa Lighting API. This new API allows commercial developers, hobbyists, and connected home enthusiasts who can code in Java or JavaScript to teach Alexa how to control their cloud-controlled devices in just a few hours. No experience with speech recognition or natural language understanding is required—Alexa does all the work to hear, understand, and process the spoken requests.

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August 17, 2015

Corey Badcock

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for you to create new voice-driven capabilities for Alexa. Alexa is the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon Echo, a new category of device designed around your voice.

We announced the availability of the Alexa Skills Kit a little over a month ago, and we’ve been impressed with some of the skills developers are teaching Alexa. We wanted to give you an early look at a few of these third-party Alexa skills that are starting to come out of the pipeline.

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