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.
All Alexa skills submitted for publication go through an Amazon Skill Certification process. This process ensures that we provide customers quality content in the Alexa Skills Catalog and that we help you deliver the highest quality experience possible. While we have Voice Experience and User Experience Guidelines available, I wanted to point out an area many skills have consistently been failing certification on. It is my hope that you can avoid the same problem when creating your skill’s Example Phrases.
As part of your skill’s description, we ask you to provide three Example Phrases for customers teaching them how to interact with your skill.
The first phrase should be the easiest way to get started with your skill. It will be displayed with the short skill description in the main list of skills in the Alexa App.[Read More]
Here are the upcoming Alexa events scheduled for Jan 2016:
Alexa enables customers to interact with devices and services in a more intuitive way using their voice. This webinar will teach you best practices for voice user interface (VUI), how to maximize usability of your voice experience, and how to creating compelling voice experiences with the Alexa Skills Kit.
Learn how to build your first Alexa skill using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) using AWS Lambda. We’ll also take a look at how to monitor your new skill using AWS CloudWatch and how to submit your Alexa Skills for certification so they will be available to customers later this year.
Alexa will be part of the “Learn IoT with the best” conference which brings the world’s top Internet of Things developers to your living room! Learn how to build your first Alexa skill using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) using AWS Lambda and book a 1:1 session to ask your own Alexa questions. Use the speaker code "Amazon1oT" for 50% discount![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]
We are excited to announce some Alexa Developer Portal updates and new SSML (Speech Synthesis Markup Language) audio tag support. All of these updates are available for you to use immediately within your own Alexa skills. SSML audio tags enable you to deliver short audio streams intermingled with TTS (text-to-speech) output in response to a customer's requests to your skill. The primary use case for this feature is to allow you to include short audio clips along with TTS in the response and to stream voice responses instead of TTS where appropriate. The length of these tags is short, and should not be used for streaming music, podcasts or similar audio playback. This update also brings the ability to delete test skills that you no longer need.[Read More]
Since public launch in June, the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) has helped developers around the globe quickly add new voice experiences to Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo and Amazon Fire TV. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of you and have seen first-hand a skill go from an idea to running on a device in only a few hours. Most of us start out with simple “telling” style skills that give customers a quick reference point, like “Alexa, tell me a random fact.” Then we quickly want to create more complex skills that are more engaging for end-users. This post combines feedback and best practices from my learnings, our Alexa voice design experts and countless others who have given feedback and input (including many Echo customers) on the types of interactions that work best.
While you should plan to monitor and tune your own voice interactions based on the ways that users interact with your skill, the tips in this post will hopefully improve the usability of your skill from the start. It is our hope they will give you a better engaged set of customers and help grown your own voice experiences moving forward.
Consistent user feedback has shown Alexa is a delight to use because:
As you look to create your own skills you should ensure all three of these core user experiences are met.[Read More]
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.
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.
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.[Read More]
Join us on Monday August 10, 2015 at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco for a full day of learning and activities. Our Developer Evangelists will share tips and best practices on how to build, optimize and monetize your apps and games. The developer day is complimentary and doesn't require Casual Connect event badge access.[Read More]