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January 26, 2016

David Isbitski

The Alexa Skills Kit has been updated with additional features. The changes are listed below and immediately available for you to take advantage of when building your skills. 

Account Linking oAuth 2.0 Support

The Alexa Skills Kit allows 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.
 

 

An update to account linking is now live that enables skills to authenticate in OAuth 2.0 using both authorization grant and refresh tokens. You can find additional details here.

Custom Slots Sizes

The custom slot type is used for items that are not covered by Amazon’s built-in set of types and is recommended for most use cases where a slot value is one of a set of possible values.

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January 13, 2016

David Isbitski

CES is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. Held in Las Vegas every year, it has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for more than 40 years—the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. This year’s CES included several Alexa announcements, below is a recap.

Ford Sync Alexa Integration

Ford is looking to use new SYNC Connect technology to link vehicles with the Amazon cloud- based voice service Alexa, which would allow customers to access their vehicle from inside their home. Using Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker and voice command device that interfaces with Alexa, Ford owners could request assistance with various functions of their car including: 


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December 23, 2015

David Isbitski

There are now over 100 Alexa skills available across Alexa enabled devices like the Amazon Echo and Amazon Fire TV and Stick.  On its first Black Friday, Amazon Echo was the #1 best seller across all $100+ products on Amazon.com. Soon, lots of customers will be unboxing their Echo for the first time and exploring Alexa’s skills. To help these new Alexa customers find your skill easier, we have added the ability to do a skill search and added a skill review system. Both of these features are available inside the Alexa app today and you will notice reviews for your skill are already being displayed next to your skill’s name and icon.

New Search Feature Makes It Easier for Customers to Find Your Skills

We’ve made it easier for customers to find and discover new skills by integrating a search feature into the Alexa app. To do a search across all available Alexa skills, open up the Alexa app and navigate to the Skills tab in the side menu.

Across the top of the skills list will be a new search box that allows customers to type in search text. For example, searching for trivia returns a list of available skills that match the trivia search string.

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November 27, 2015

David Isbitski

I am excited to announce a new Voice Simulator that you can use to create SSML (Speech Synthesis Markup Language) without having to make calls to your Alexa skill or the need for an Alexa device. This new tool will let you experiment with SSML speech tags and then immediately hear how Alexa will say them. In addition, we have updated the Service Simulator tool to let Alexa speak responses from your skill directly within the console.

We are also adding four new built-in intents for use within your own skills: Yes, No, Repeat and StartOver. These new intents will enable you to control how Alexa responds to customers requesting that she repeat or start over an action as well as a standard way to respond to questions that require a yes or no answer.

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October 23, 2015

David Isbitski

Since the Alexa Skills Kit Developer Preview launched in June, we’ve continued to roll out new features and documentation based directly on your feedback. Today we are adding three highly requested features as built-in intents for use with your own skills: help, stop and cancel. We’re also adding a new Amazon slot type for US cities. These new intents will enable you to control how Alexa responds to customers requesting her to stop an action or ask for help while running your skill. 

The Alexa Skills Kit provides a collection of new built-in intents. These are intents for very common actions that you can choose to implement without providing any sample utterances. For example, the built-in AMAZON.HelpIntent is automatically mapped to common ways of requesting help from a skill. If you choose to use this intent, users can invoke your skill, say something like “help”, and the Alexa service sends your service an IntentRequest for the AMAZON.HelpIntent. Your service can handle this intent in a way appropriate for your skill. Built-in intents save you the trouble of having to write multiple sample utterances for the intent and give your skill a consistent, common way to work with.

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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 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 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 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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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 07, 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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July 31, 2015

David Isbitski

The free Alexa Voice Service (AVS), the same service that powers Amazon Echo, is now available in developer preview to hobbyists and hardware makers who want to integrate Alexa into their connected devices. AVS enables your customers to speak to Alexa through the microphone on your device and Alexa will respond through the device’s speakers. With the developer preview, you get access to a collection of self-service tools, documentation, and APIs and code samples to enhance your device and delight your customers with new voice experiences. Alexa includes access to information, music, audiobooks, news, weather, traffic and more, including any custom skills you create using the Alexa Skills Kit to differentiate your device. Learn more about the developer preview.

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