We are excited to announce an important update to the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) that will enable you to enhance the user experience on your Alexa-enabled products.
Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is an intelligent and scalable cloud service that adds voice-enabled experiences to any connected product – all you need is a microphone and speaker. Users can simply talk to their Alexa-enabled products to play music, answer questions, get news/local information, control smart home products, and more. And with the free Amazon Alexa app, users can easily control and manage their products from anywhere!
Last year, we launched a developer preview of AVS to introduce you to the benefits of voice-powered experiences. With this update, we are making architectural improvements that include updated APIs and message structures, Amazon Alexa App (iOS and Android) support and the ability to send server-initiated messages.[Read More]
With a community of more than 100,000 developers, makers, and entrepreneurs, Hackster.io enables users to showcase their portfolio, gather feedback on projects, and learn more about internet-connected hardware. Now, users can add Amazon Echo, Alexa Voice Service, and Alexa Skills Kit tags to their projects to be featured on the Amazon Alexa page on Hackster. We are inspired by the community members who have started to share what they built with Alexa from a voice-controlled drone to a dancing robot, and even a stormtrooper blaster. Hackster allows you to share full tutorials with a list of components, schematics, and code so anyone can replicate these projects at home.
I've always been a fan of open source communities. Hackster.io not only allows me to share my projects, but I also get feedback from other hackers with aligned interests. When I showcased Magic Mirror on Hackster I received private messages from members asking about the code and questions about setting up their own. I was happy to help and share knowledge.” - Arlo Carreon, creator of Magic Mirror on Hackster and Amazon employee
Build voice experiences, share your expertise, and connect with the Alexa community by joining the Hackster platform. Follow Alexa to stay tuned to new projects built by the community and powered by Alexa.
We are excited to see what you build next.
Check out these Alexa developer resources:
Special Offer We're offering free Alexa dev t-shirts for all developers who publish their skill and complete our form by March 31, 2016. Quantities are limited. See terms and conditions. Remember, you can get a skill up and running quickly using our Trivia Skill Template.
Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, powers voice experiences on millions of devices, including Amazon Echo and Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. Today, Amazon brings Alexa to more devices with its two newest additions: Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that enables you to add Alexa to any room. Amazon Tap is an Alexa-enabled portable speaker.
Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses the same far-field voice recognition as Amazon Echo. Dot has a built-in speaker and also connects over Bluetooth or with the included audio cable to your own speaker. Echo Dot ($89.99) is available exclusively for Prime Members through Alexa Voice Shopping. To order your Echo Dot, use your Echo or Fire TV and just ask: “Alexa, order Echo Dot.”
Alexa—the brain behind Echo Dot—is built in the cloud, so it is always getting smarter. The more you use Dot, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo Dot is always connected, updates are delivered automatically. Third-party skills from developers add even more capabilities like ordering a pizza from Domino's, requesting a ride from Uber, opening your garage with Garageio, and more. Enabling skills lets your Echo Dot do even more—simply discover and enable the skills you want to use in the Alexa App.
When creating an interaction model for your Alexa skill you can utilize several built-in slot types along with your own custom slots. Custom slots provide the ability to add custom values for items that are not covered by Amazon’s built-in slot types. By using built-in and custom slot you can drastically reduce number of sample utterances you need to provide, and increase the overall accuracy of Alexa’s speech recognition.
Based on your feedback, we are happy to announce the addition of extensible built-in slot types starting with AMAZON.US_CITY, AMAZON.US_FIRST_NAME and AMAZON.US_STATE.
Extending a built-in slot type appends the values you provide to the built-in values defined by Amazon. For example, AMAZON.US_CITY automatically recognizes US cities with a population over 100,000. If you need to collect additional cities, such as your hometown, you could add them to the list by extending the type. The slot would then recognize both the original set of values as well as the custom ones you added.
In order to extend a slot type, edit to your skill and click on the Interaction Model tab. Next, scroll down the Interaction Model page and click on Add Slot Type.
Big Nerd Ranch, known globally for its highly effective immersive application development bootcamps and app development services, is working with Amazon to develop training courses for the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). ASK is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation and code samples that make it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. Using ASK, you can teach new skills to Alexa in just a few hours. No prior experience with speech recognition or natural language understanding is required. All of the code runs in the cloud — nothing is installed on any user device.
This new training will be available to you later this month, at no cost, and we’ll continue to roll out new modules over the coming months. The training will show you how to build Alexa skills from start to finish, beginning with development environment setup, and concluding with the Amazon certification and more complex skill interactions like account linking. Best practices for voice user interfaces will also be taught, along with UI design, database interaction, testing and more.
You can check out the full announcement here.
Over the past several weeks I have been hosting weekly Alexa webinars offering an introduction to building skills, voice design guidance as well as hands on demos with the latest Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) features. Based on your feedback, some of the most exciting parts of these webinars have been the open dialog we have had together. The webinars have become a place to get your questions answered directly and instantly. With that in mind I am happy to announce new weekly office hours in addition to the weekly webinars.
Office hours, which I had previously called Alexa Dev Chats, will be a place for you talk directly with myself and the Amazon Alexa team every Tuesday at 1pm PST/4pm EST. During these office hours, you will be able to get answers to any technical questions you have, discuss your skill use case, learn voice design best practices and see live code demos to help you troubleshoot. Our hope is to enable you to get help with quick questions, build the right voice design for your use case, get your skill certified more quickly, and learn how to use AWS services like AWS Lambda for your skill.
We’ll rotate different roles through the office hours so that you can learn about voice design from our VUI experts, new ASK features from our engineering team, as well as skill submission tips from our certification team.
Here are the topics for the next four weeks:
It's been a big week for our Alexa developer community. Developers have added over 200 skills to the Alexa platform. Amazon Echo and Fire TV customers can now request a car service with Uber or order a pizza from Domino's — just in time for the Super Bowl. Alexa will also join Alec Baldwin for the #BaldwinBowl, starring in Amazon's first-ever Super Bowl commercial. Watch the videos to see how Alexa is helping Alec plan an epic party.
Alexa can now call you a car. Whether you're off to the airport or a big night out, get a reliable ride in minutes. Choose among Uber's various ride options, from low-cost to premium. You can check it out on The Verge or learn more details on the API integration on the Uber developer blog here.
To get started, set your Echo's location under "Settings" in your Alexa App, then enable the Uber skill and link your Uber account. If you don't have an account, you'll be prompted to create one. Once set up, just ask:
We also announced this week that Spotify subscribers in the U.S. can now listen to their music on Amazon Echo—just ask Alexa to play any playlist, artist, genre and more from Spotify’s catalog. And because Echo also supports Spotify Connect, customers can easily transfer and control their listening experience from the Spotify app to Echo—just select Echo from the list of available devices within the Spotify app. Then, just ask:[Read More]
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.
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.
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.[Read More]
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 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:[Read More]
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.
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.[Read More]
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.[Read More]
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.[Read More]
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:[Read More]
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.
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.
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![Read More]