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Alexa Blogs Alexa Developer Blogs /blogs/alexa/feed/entries/atom 2018-04-26T14:48:51+00:00 Apache Roller /blogs/alexa/post/60e1f011-3236-4162-b0f6-509205d354ca/making-alexa-more-friction-free Making Alexa More Friction-Free Richard Eckel 2018-04-26T06:59:00+00:00 2018-04-26T14:48:51+00:00 <p>Alexa scientists and engineers are on a multi-year journey to fundamentally change human-computer interaction. Skills arbitration, context carryover and a new memory feature are early instances of a class of work to make engaging with Alexa more friction-free.&nbsp;</p> <p>Friction is any variable that impedes your progress toward a goal, whether it’s purchasing a product or navigating traffic to make your 9 a.m. meeting on time.</p> <p>Amazon is obsessively focused on reducing or eliminating friction – think <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201889620" target="_blank">one-click ordering</a>, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Prime-One-Year-Membership/dp/B00DBYBNEE" target="_blank">Amazon Prime</a>, or <a href="https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&amp;node=16008589011" target="_blank">Amazon Go</a>.</p> <p>This morning, I am delivering <a href="https://www2018.thewebconf.org/keynotes/#ruhi-sarikaya" target="_blank">a keynote talk</a> at the <a href="https://www2018.thewebconf.org/keynotes/" target="_blank">World Wide Web Conference</a> in Lyon, France, with the title, <em>Conversational AI for Interacting with the Digital and Physical World</em>. In my presentation, I’ll emphasize that while today’s computers are currently optimized to provide audiovisual output and receive tactile and motor skill input, we are on the cusp of voice becoming the primary input. This is significant as we evolve to a world of ambient computing, where we are surrounded at home, work and on the go by devices with internet connectivity and the ability to interact with cloud-based services via natural language understanding. Our goal is to enable more natural interaction with all of these IOT devices, and for these devices to more proactively engage with us.</p> <p>The mobile computing era provides many benefits; we all wouldn’t be tethered to our phones if it didn’t. But when you think about it, what’s changed primarily with the phone is the form factor; the screen is smaller but we interact with our phones much the same way we do our PCs. It’s great to have a computing device where ever we go, yet we are still attached to a screen, touching, typing and swiping. With voice, you’re truly mobile. I’m often in the kitchen cooking, cleaning or putting groceries in the fridge, and without diverting my attention I can ask Alexa to play a song, or provide a weather update. Rarely am I looking directly at my Echo device when I ask a question, or make a request. In a sense, voice-enabled devices set me free. The profound difference in this emerging era is that with the benefit of AI and machine-learning technologies, Alexa and similar services can learn about you, and conform to your needs, instead of you having to conform to the system’s interaction model.</p> <p>Alexa is similar to any other Amazon service. It is about removing friction in our customers’ interactions with the physical and digital world. The Alexa Brain initiative, which I lead, is one of many within the Alexa organization focused on making Alexa smarter and more natural to engage with. Our goals are to make it easier for users to discover and interact with the more than 40,000 third-party skills that developers have created for Alexa, and to improve Alexa’s ability to track context and memory within and across dialog sessions.</p> <p>In my talk today, I’ll be updating conference goers on our progress against these goals, and outline the challenges that still exist in making interaction with Alexa more natural. I’ll also be highlighting three new capabilities we’ll soon make available to our customers.</p> <h2>Skills Arbitration</h2> <p>We are always looking for ways to make it easier for customers to find and engage with skills. One of our approaches to this is the ability for Alexa to dynamically arbitrate among skills using machine learning. In the coming weeks, we’re rolling out this new capability that allows customers in the U.S. to automatically discover, enable and launch skills using natural phrases and requests. For example, using an Echo Show device, I recently asked: “Alexa, how do I remove an oil stain from my shirt?” She replied: “Here is Tide Stain Remover.” This beta experience was friction-free; the skill just walked me through the process of removing an oil stain from my shirt. Previously, I would have had to discover the skill on my own to use it. This is just one example, but it gives you a sense for how this capability will provide customers frictionless direct access to, and interaction with, third-party skills. We’re excited about what we’ve learned from our early beta users and will gradually make this capability available to more skills and customers in the U.S.</p> <h2>Context Carryover</h2> <p>Soon, we will improve our understanding of multi-turn utterances, or what we refer to as context carryover. Initially, we will make this capability available to all of our customers in the U.S., U.K., and Germany. Previously, we’ve supported two-turn interactions with explicit pronoun references. For example, “Alexa, what was Adele’s first album?” “Alexa, play it.” We are expanding beyond this to include utterances without pronouns. For example: “Alexa, how is the weather in Seattle?” → “What about this weekend?” We are also supporting context across domains. For example: “Alexa, how’s the weather in Portland?” → “How long does it take to get there?” We are providing this more natural way of engaging with Alexa by adding deep learning models to our spoken language understanding (SLU) pipeline that allows us to carry customers’ intent and entities within and across domains (i.e., between weather and traffic).</p> <h2>Memory</h2> <p>In the U.S, we also soon will begin to roll out a new memory feature. With this capability, Alexa can remember any information for you so that you never forget. Alexa can store arbitrary information you want and retrieve it later. For example, a customer might ask: “Alexa, remember that Sean’s birthday is June 20th.” Alexa will reply: “Okay, I’ll remember that Sean’s birthday is June 20th.” This memory feature is the first of many launches this year that will make Alexa more personalized. It's early days, but with this initial release we will make it easier for customers to save information, as well as provide a natural way to recall that information later.</p> <h2>The Challenges Ahead</h2> <p>The work of our science and engineering teams to make Alexa smarter and more engaging has been extraordinary. It requires significant changes to Alexa’s existing architecture and incorporates contextual cues and customer preferences across all components of our system.</p> <p>We have many challenges still to address, such as how to scale these new experiences across languages and different devices, how to scale skill arbitration across the tens of thousands of Alexa skills, and how to measure experience quality. Additionally, there are component-level technology challenges that span automatic speech recognition, spoken language understanding, dialog management, natural language generation, text-to-speech synthesis, and personalization.</p> <p>As Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist of the Alexa Machine Learning team, said in a <a href="https://blog.aboutamazon.com/innovation/how-our-scientists-are-making-alexa-smarter" target="_blank">recent interview</a>, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. Skills arbitration, context carryover and the memory feature are early instances of a class of work Amazon scientists and engineers are doing to make engaging with Alexa more friction-free. We’re on a multi-year journey to fundamentally change human-computer interaction, and as we like to say at Amazon, it’s still Day 1.</p> <p><em>Ruhi Sarikaya is director of applied science, Alexa Machine Learning. You can follow him on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/Ruhi_Sarikaya" target="_blank"><em>@Ruhi_Sarikaya</em></a><em>. </em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>Related: </strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Amazon at </strong></em><a href="https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/the-web-conference" target="_blank"><em><strong>The Web Conference 2018</strong></em></a></p> <p><a href="https://blog.aboutamazon.com/innovation/how-our-scientists-are-making-alexa-smarter" target="_blank"><em><strong>How our scientists are making Alexa smarter</strong></em></a></p> /blogs/alexa/post/1c5f9c52-9222-4669-81be-c091c9c9c151/gal-shenar-has-cracked-the-code-when-it-comes-to-earning-alexa-developer-rewards Gal Shenar Has “Cracked the Code” When It Comes to Earning Alexa Developer Rewards Jennifer King 2018-04-25T15:30:00+00:00 2018-04-25T15:30:21+00:00 <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/blog._CB497819336_.jpg" style="height:1103px; width:5509px" /></p> <p>With more than 30 published Alexa skills in less than 12 months, Shenar has “cracked the code” for building top-earning skills and offers some pointers on how others can too.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/blog._CB497819336_.jpg" /></p> <p>Boston web developer Gal Shenar had no idea that building an Alexa skill for fun would earn him more than $25,000 in only six months.</p> <p>“I was surprised to learn <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Stoked-Skills-Good-Night/dp/B01N03FUSI" target="_blank">Good Night</a> had become one of the most used lifestyle skills,” said Shenar. “From then on, I started investing more and more time in building new skills that are both fun for me and highly engaging for users.”</p> <p>Intrigued by an Alexa hackathon, Shenar pored over the online Alexa developer resources and quickly built his first skill. That skill, though simple, was so engaging that Shenar soon received a call from Amazon. He had earned money from the Alexa Developer Rewards program as a result of his skill’s high customer engagement.</p> <p>“I love being part of an exciting new technology that plays such a huge part in people’s lives,” says Shenar. “Getting paid to create skills that help people do things that are fun and useful is an awesome incentive to keep building.”</p> <p>With more than 30 published Alexa skills in less than 12 months, Shenar has “cracked the code” for building top-earning skills and offers some pointers on how others can too.</p> <h2>A Lesson in Simplicity and Giving Users What They Want</h2> <p>Shenar first learned about Alexa skills after attending an Amazon Robotics lab tour. At the time, the computer scientist and Vistaprint web developer had little interest in voice. But his interest quickly grew after he built a movie trivia skill with a hackathon team following the tour. Then he immediately started thinking about building a skill of his own.</p> <p>When building his first skill, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Stoked-Skills-Good-Night/dp/B01N03FUSI" target="_blank">Good Night</a>, Shenar wanted to explore possibilities with Alexa, but without starting with something overly complex. At the same time, he wanted to build a skill that was unique and something users would look forward to experiencing every day.</p> <p>“I thought it would be fun to have Alexa tell you good night,” says Shenar. “Not everyone has someone to tell them good night, so I wanted to give them a nice, comforting phrase to fall asleep to.”</p> <p>Shenar curated a collection of different phrases so that when the customer invokes the skill, Alexa responds with a different quote. He also refreshes the phases from time to time, so his customers won’t often hear the same ones repeated.</p> <p>“It was a great way for me to experiment with Alexa, and it was obviously something that people really liked,” says Shenar. “It’s the simple, yet somehow personal interaction with Alexa that keeps all those users coming back for more and the rewards checks coming in.”</p> <h2>Reinvesting Helps Build a Portfolio of Skills That Keep Earning Rewards</h2> <p>With a 4.4-star rating in the Alexa Skills Store, Good Night proved to Shenar that developing for voice could be more than a hobby—it could be a source of income. Since then, he has built <a href="https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dalexa-skills&amp;field-keywords=stoked+skills" target="_blank">more than 30 skills</a>, published under his company name, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dalexa-skills&amp;field-keywords=stoked+skills" target="_blank">Stoked Skills</a>. The skills cover a gamut of topics, from surf weather reporting to meditation and workout skills.</p> <p>Earning developer rewards keeps Shenar moving forward with new skills and improving existing ones. He has reinvested his rewards in Amazon S3 hosting and in recording quality voice and audio for his top-earning skills, including Good Night, Escape the Room, and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Stoked-Skills-LLC-Pushup-Challenge/dp/B074YCDWH9/" target="_blank">30 Day Pushup Challenge</a>. Shenar also receives AWS promotional credits to help defray the operating costs associated with his <a href="https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dalexa-skills&amp;field-keywords=stoked+skills+sounds" target="_blank">ambient sound skills</a>, which stream high-quality sound for sleep, relaxation, and focus.</p> <p>His latest skills—<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Stoked-Skills-LLC-Escape-Room/dp/B075J914W2/" target="_blank">Escape the Room</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Stoked-Skills-LLC-Word-Play/dp/B0796331D5/" target="_blank">Word Play</a>—are helping him earn even more. “After I mastered basic skills with simple interactions, I moved on to more complicated skills,” says Shenar. “Escape the Room and Word Play are more complex, in-depth experiences that keep customers engaged for hours—some as long as 15 and 30 hours at a time.”</p> <p>Shenar describes Escape the Room as a voice-first version of popular “escape rooms” around the world, where users are locked in a room and search for clues and manipulate objects to free themselves. Word Play is a gameshow-like experience where players have to guess the hidden letters of a secret word Alexa has chosen. Both are far more complex than Shenar’s earlier skills, yet the level of customer engagement tells him that they will continue earning rewards.</p> <h2>Tips for Building Money-Making Skills from a Top Skill Builder</h2> <p>Shenar offers some lessons learned to develop top-earning skills:</p> <ul> <li>Make sure the skill provides something people actually want and will enjoy.</li> <li>Keep it simple and intuitive, without overcomplicating the interface.</li> <li>Provide the right amount of instructions, at the right time, and only when customers get stuck.</li> <li>Keep the content fresh, so there is always more to bring customers back.</li> <li>Listen to your customers to improve the experience. Reviews can provide valuable feedback, and you can develop a more direct conversation by providing your email address in your skill descriptions.</li> <li>Pay attention to your ratings. Escape the Room started at less than three stars, but Shenar invested a lot of time improving it to raise it to more than four stars.</li> <li>Test, test, and test more to streamline the user experience. Shenar uses the Alexa skill beta test option in the developer console to get feedback from friends, family, and colleagues.</li> </ul> <h2>The Opportunities for Earning with Alexa Keep Growing</h2> <p>Shenar plans to continue making money with his Alexa skills. In addition to receiving rewards payouts, he plans to incorporate <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/earn">in-skill purchases like subscriptions and one-time purchases</a> to give customers access to premium content. For example, he wants to offer Escape the Room customers additional rooms and features via premium expansion packs, as well as hint packs to help guide them through the experience.</p> <p>“The Alexa Developer Rewards are an awesome incentive for me to continue building Alexa skills with quality user experiences,” says Shenar. “And I definitely look forward to leveraging the new monetization features as soon as they’re available.”</p> <h2>Build Engaging Skills, Earn Money with Alexa Developer Rewards</h2> <p>Every month, developers can earn money for eligible skills that drive some of the highest customer engagement. Developers can increase their level of skill engagement and potentially earn more by improving their skill, building more skills, and making their skills available in in the US, UK and Germany.<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/rewards"> Learn more</a> about our rewards program and start building today. <a href="http://dev.amazonappservices.com/sept-web-guide-us.html" target="_blank">Download our guide</a> or watch our<a href="https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4673294238964482305" target="_blank"> on-demand webinar</a> for tips to build engaging skills.</p> /blogs/alexa/post/8b083af9-65c8-41a6-b9f4-dd2e30f1fa24/echo-spot-now-shipping-to-customers-in-india Echo Spot Now Shipping to Customers in India Tom George 2018-04-24T19:14:49+00:00 2018-04-24T19:14:49+00:00 <p><img alt="EchoSpotinIndia.png" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/India-2018/EchoSpotinIndia._CB497691574_.png?t=true" /></p> <p>Today we are delighted to announce that Echo Spot is now shipping to customers in <a href="http://www.amazon.in/dp/B01J6A7FGQ" target="_blank">India</a>. Echo Spot brings customers everything they love about Alexa and Echo in an all-new compact design, combining the power of voice with a visual display.</p> <p><img alt="EchoSpotinIndia.png" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/India-2018/EchoSpotinIndia._CB497691574_.png?t=true" /></p> <p style="text-align:justify">Today we are delighted to announce that Echo Spot is now shipping to customers in <a href="http://www.amazon.in/dp/B01J6A7FGQ" target="_blank">India</a>. Echo Spot brings customers everything they love about Alexa and Echo in an all-new compact design, combining the power of voice with a visual display. Echo Spot is a smaller, versatile Echo device with a screen and designed for various use cases in the home.</p> <p style="text-align:justify">Customers are adding Echo Spot to their desk, kitchen, book shelves, or as an intercom or music system throughout their home. This opens up new opportunities for skill developers to create engaging voice experiences enhanced by the interactive touch display.</p> <h2>Design Voice-First Experiences for Echo Spot</h2> <p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in; text-align:justify">With the addition of Echo Spot, customers have even more ways to interact with voice. You can now <a href="http://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/8ce19174-8c1e-487b-89d6-e931f67853fa/building-skills-for-the-echo-spot" target="_blank">create great multimodal experiences</a>&nbsp;optimized for Echo Spot and use the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/designing-for-voice/" target="_blank">Alexa Voice Design Guide</a> to help you define an engaging experience for your customers.</p> <p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in; text-align:justify">A custom skill for Echo Spot can include an interactive touch display in its response, in addition to standard voice interaction. Customers can now interact with Alexa through the voice user interface (VUI), graphical user interface (GUI), and touch elements of Echo Spot. Consider how all of these elements will work together for your customers. Read our documentation on <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/build-skills-for-echo-show.html" target="_blank">building skills for Echo Spot</a> to get started.</p> <h2>Start Building Skills for Echo Spot Today</h2> <p>Check out the following resources as you start creating magical voice-first experiences for devices with screens:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.amazon.in/dp/B01J6A7FGQ" target="_blank">Echo Spot Product Details – India</a></li> <li>For general guidance on creating a skill, read <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/steps-to-build-a-custom-skill.html" target="_blank">Steps to Build a Custom Skill</a></li> <li>To create a skill with Echo Spot support, read the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/display-interface-reference.html" target="_blank">Display Interface Reference</a></li> <li>To include video in your Alexa skill, read the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/videoapp-interface-reference.html" target="_blank">VideoApp Interface Reference</a></li> <li>For best practices, read <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/best-practices-for-echo-show-skills.html" target="_blank">Best Practices for Designing Skills for Echo Devices With a Screen</a></li> <li>Connect with the Alexa community on our <a href="https://forums.developer.amazon.com/spaces/165/index.html" target="_blank">developer forums</a></li> </ul> <h2>Webinar: Designing Multimodal Skills for Alexa</h2> <p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in; text-align:justify">Learn to design skills that shine across all Alexa-enabled devices including Echo Spot. Join our upcoming webinar to learn how to add imagery, video, and formatted text content. <a href="http://dev.amazonappservices.com/designing-multimodal-skills-for-alexa-in-web-reg.html" target="_blank">Register now</a>&nbsp;to reserve your spot.</p> <h2>Join Us for Alexa Dev Days</h2> <p style="margin-left:0in; margin-right:0in">Join us at our upcoming <a href="http://alexadevday.com/Hyderabad" target="_blank">Alexa Dev Day (Hyderabad)</a>&nbsp;on&nbsp;22 May, 2018 to get hands-on training, learn about voice design, and meet other local developers.</p> /blogs/alexa/post/1177ab8f-9ece-48e4-8035-e9967c7a269a/how-to-make-it-easy-for-teams-to-contribute-content-to-your-alexa-skill How to Make It Easy for Teams to Contribute Content to Your Alexa Skill Jennifer King 2018-04-24T14:00:00+00:00 2018-04-24T14:00:00+00:00 <p>As I was building Dev Tips, I wanted to find a better way to include my team as I enhance and maintain the skill. This post summarizes the things I learned about including non-technical contributors in the skill development process.</p> <p>One of the things I have learned from working on <a href="http://alexa.design/devtips" target="_blank">Dev Tips</a> is that a great skill isn’t created and run by one single person. Sometimes it takes a team. For the Dev Tips skill, we have a graphic designer who creates the icons and artwork that we use in <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/include-a-card-in-your-skills-response.html">cards</a> and <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/display-interface-reference.html">display templates</a>. We also have a writer from our marketing team who contributes new content on a weekly basis so that the skill is delivering latest and greatest topics on Alexa development.</p> <p>As I was building Dev Tips, I wanted to make sure that non-technical content creators like writers and designers could easily make their contributions to the skill. I also didn’t want to be the gatekeeper to all future changes. This inspired me to find a better way to include my team as I enhance and maintain the skill. This post summarizes the things I learned about including non-technical contributors in the skill development process.</p> <h2>Start with an External Data Source</h2> <p>The first step, for me, was to take much of my content out of my Lambda function, and move it somewhere that could be more easily manipulated by my team. My first effort took me to the obvious choice: <a href="https://aws.amazon.com/dynamodb/" target="_blank">Amazon DynamoDB</a>. DynamoDB is fantastic, flexible, and fast. The one thing that it lacked for me, however, was an interface that non-technical individuals would be <strong>comfortable</strong> with. For those that are familiar with databases, the interface is incredibly useful:</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/mobile-apps/dex/alexa/alexa-skills-kit/blog/making-it-easy-for-nontechnical-contributors/dynamodb._CB1523969183_.png" style="display:block; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto" /></p> <p>For my team of non-technical individuals, however, this seemed like it would require training to ease the transition into using this tool. Also, because much of the storage of the data would be done using JSON, this introduced opportunities for human error.</p> <p>In my search for something more compatible with my goals, I stumbled upon <a href="http://airtable.com/" target="_blank">AirTable</a>, an independent company that makes data tools. Their primary interface looks and acts like a familiar and accessible spreadsheet.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/airtable._CB497828644_.png" style="display:block; height:283px; margin-left:auto; margin-right:auto; width:1000px" /></p> <p>In addition to a familiar interface, AirTable also offers a wide variety of data types to choose from. This makes it easy to save data in a format that makes sense for your application. Behind the scenes, there is an entire <a href="http://airtable.com/api" target="_blank">API</a> that allows you to create, read, update, and delete records directly from your code. All of the data travels as JSON objects, making it easy to consume.</p> <h2>Make HTTP Calls to Your Data</h2> <p>Instead of relying on a pile of data objects inside your code, you can just as easily make direct calls to your external database to retrieve that data. I rely on a combination of <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/define-synonyms-and-ids-for-slot-type-values-entity-resolution.html">entity resolution</a> and HTTP to grab the answers for Dev Tips. (For more information about making HTTP calls, <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/a9ef18b2-ef68-44d4-86eb-dbdb293853bb/alexa-skill-recipe-making-http-requests-to-get-data-from-an-external-api">check out this post</a>.)</p> <p>When entity resolution confirms that a user has matched one of my slot values, I can confidently make a call to my data to retrieve the record for that slot. Once I have retrieved that data, I can respond to my user with the answer they were looking for.</p> <p>This is also handy for all of the other kinds of data I keep in the skill. I have an array of responses for welcome messages, goodbye messages, “I didn’t understand your request” messages, and others. By extracting and externalizing these, it makes it incredibly simple to add more responses to the list as we continue to improve the skill.</p> <h2>Continuous Improvement</h2> <p>One of the immediate benefits of using an easily editable external data source is that when your team identifies that an answer is out of date or includes a typo, they can easily fix it. As soon as the data changes, our skill is updated—no code changes, no schema updates, and no technical intervention necessary.</p> <p>In the cases where we need to add new “answers” to the skill, they can add them to our database, and I update the schema with the new slot values every week.</p> <h2>Access Creates Ownership</h2> <p>This process means content creators can add fresh content to the skill immediately without any technical barriers. This has also allowed them to take ownership over the skill’s quality because when they find something that doesn’t work, they can fix it themselves.</p> <p>Think about the non-developers on your team who are tasked with helping you make your skill great. Think about the tools they are being asked to use. Are they the right ones? And as a developer, think about how empowered you feel to make changes to your code. Wouldn’t it be great if your whole team felt that way about their contributions to the skill?</p> <p>Ultimately, you want to create an engaging skill that keeps customers coming back. But a great skill starts with a team of people who care passionately about the skill and its mission. Follow these tips to make it easier for your teammates to be as passionate as you are about building great voice experiences.</p> <h2>Build Engaging Skills, Earn Money with Alexa Developer Rewards</h2> <p>Every month, developers can earn money for eligible skills that drive some of the highest customer engagement. Developers can increase their level of skill engagement and potentially earn more by improving their skill, building more skills, and making their skills available in in the US, UK and Germany.<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/rewards"> Learn more</a> about our rewards program and start building today.<a href="http://dev.amazonappservices.com/sept-web-guide-us.html" target="_blank"> Download our guide</a> or watch our<a href="https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4673294238964482305" target="_blank"> on-demand webinar</a> for tips to build engaging skills.</p> /blogs/alexa/post/8ce19174-8c1e-487b-89d6-e931f67853fa/building-skills-for-the-echo-spot Building Skills for Echo Spot Customers in India Sohan Maheshwar 2018-04-24T07:00:00+00:00 2018-04-24T19:13:17+00:00 <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/India-2018/Techblog-EchoSpot._CB497890358_.png?t=true" style="height:240px; width:954px" /></p> <p>Start building skills for Echo Spot for customers in India. Learn how to detect if a device has a display and generate the graphical user interface using a body template from the Alexa Skills Kit.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/India-2018/Techblog-EchoSpot._CB497890358_.png?t=true" style="height:240px; width:954px" /></p> <p>Today <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/8b083af9-65c8-41a6-b9f4-dd2e30f1fa24/echo-spot-now-shipping-to-customers-in-india">we announced</a> that Echo Spot is now shipping to customers in India. Echo Spot combines the power of voice with a visual display in a compact design to deliver magical voice experiences for customers.&nbsp;A custom skill for Echo Spot can include an interactive touch display in its response, in addition to standard voice interactions.</p> <p>For skill developers, voice-enabled devices with a screen create unique opportunities to reimagine voice innovations. Here we show how you can build engaging voice-first skills for Echo Spot.</p> <h2>How to Detect a Device Display</h2> <p>Customers respond to a skill using different responses and actions depending on whether the customer does or does not see a screen while using the skill. Now that your skill is able to detect if a device has display, your skill service code should reflect this difference and support both types of interactions.</p> <p>Here’s an example where we detect if a device has a display and then generate the graphical user interface (GUI) using one of the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/982c9134-fbf6-4465-a105-5f5c4b4774f6/building-for-echo-show-choosing-the-right-template" target="_blank">body templates</a> in the Alexa Skills Kit. First, for your skill to be able to serve on display devices, you need to enable it through the developer console as shown below.</p> <p style="margin-left:40px"><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/India-2018/displayInterfaces._CB497889406_.png" /></p> <p>The <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/1c9f0651-6f67-415d-baa2-542ebc0a84cc/build-engaging-skills-what-s-inside-the-alexa-json-request" target="_blank">JSON request</a> that your skill receives includes all the information you need to determine if your device has a screen display and if it supports other interfaces, like Audio Player and Video. Let’s look closely at the JSON requests received from a variety of Alexa devices: Echo (no display screen), and Echo Spot (display screen)</p> <p style="margin-left:40px"><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/alexa-device-requests-display-no-display._CB499323354_.gif" style="height:960px; width:640px" /></p> <p><strong>Step 1:</strong> Include this helper function in your skill code to detect if the device has display. As you can see from the JSON above, to determine whether the device supports display, we need to check if the node “Display” exists within the “supportedInterfaces” node in the JSON request we receive. Here’s the helper function that can do that for you:</p> <pre> <code class="language-javascript">// returns true if the skill is running on a device with a display function supportsDisplay() { var hasDisplay = this.event.context &amp;&amp; this.event.context.System &amp;&amp; this.event.context.System.device &amp;&amp; this.event.context.System.device.supportedInterfaces &amp;&amp; this.event.context.System.device.supportedInterfaces.Display return hasDisplay; } </code></pre> <p><strong>Step 2:</strong> Call the helper function from within your intent to check if the device has display.</p> <pre> <code class="language-javascript">suggestPizza: function (){ //checking if the device has display by calling our supportsDisplay helper function and passing the JSON request received by the skill as an argument if (supportsDisplay.call(this)) { //device has display } else { //device does not have display } } </code></pre> <p><strong>Step 3:</strong> Respond differently (display vs. no-display)</p> <p>Generally speaking, the customer will respond to a skill using different responses and different actions depending on whether the customer does or does not see a screen while using the skill. Now that your skill is able to detect if a device has display, your skill service code should reflect this difference and should reflect both types of interactions.</p> <p>Here’s an example where after we detect if a device has display, we generate the GUI using one of the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/982c9134-fbf6-4465-a105-5f5c4b4774f6/building-for-echo-show-choosing-the-right-template" target="_blank">body templates</a> provided by the Alexa Skills Kit.</p> <pre> <code class="language-javascript">const Alexa = require('alexa-sdk'); const makePlainText = Alexa.utils.TextUtils.makePlainText; const makeRichText = Alexa.utils.TextUtils.makeRichText; const makeImage = Alexa.utils.ImageUtils.makeImage; 'suggestPizza’: function (){ var speechOutput //checking if the device has display by calling our supportsDisplay helper function and passing the JSON request received by the skill as an argument if (supportsDisplay.call(this)) { //if device has display, generate display using a template, and the speech output var title = 'Veggie Delite’; var description = 'We suggest the Veggie Delite pizza which has Golden Corn, Black Olives, Capsicum and a lot of cheese. Yum!'; var imageURL = 'https://i.imgur.com/rpcYKDD.jpg' speechOutput = description; // building display directive const builder = new Alexa.templateBuilders.BodyTemplate1Builder(); const template = builder.setTitle(title) .setBackgroundImage(makeImage(imageURL)) .setTextContent(makeRichText('' + description + ''), null, null) .build(); this.response.renderTemplate(template); } else { //if device does not have display, simply respond back with speech speechOutput = &quot;Here's your &quot; + pizzaSuggested + “which contains” + pizzaDescription; } this.response.speak(speechOutput); this.emit(':responseReady'); } </code></pre> <h2>Testing Your Skill on Echo Spot</h2> <p>You can test your skill on your Echo Spot device (provided that the device and your Amazon Developer account are the same) or you can also use the new Echo Spot simulator on the Test page of the <a href="https://alexa.design/2FuiNkw">Alexa Skills Kit developer console</a>.</p> <h2>More Resources</h2> <p>Check out some additional resources for designing voice-first&nbsp;skills for devices with screens.</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/982c9134-fbf6-4465-a105-5f5c4b4774f6/building-for-echo-show-choosing-the-right-template" target="_blank">Designing Skills for Echo Show: Choosing the Right Display Template</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/best-practices-for-echo-show-skills.html" target="_blank">Best Practices for Designing Skills for Echo Devices With a Screen</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/display-interface-reference.html" target="_blank">Display Interface and Template Reference</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/certification-issues-screen.html" target="_blank">Test for Screen-Based Interaction Issues in Your Alexa Skill</a></li> <li><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/designing-for-voice/what-alexa-says/#choose-the-right-template-on-echo-show-or-echo-spot" target="_blank">Choose the Right Template on Echo Spot</a></li> <li><a href="https://github.com/alexa/alexa-skills-kit-sdk-for-nodejs#display-interface" target="_blank">Alexa Skills Kit SDK for Node.js – Using Display Interface</a></li> </ul> <h2><strong>Webinar: Designing Multimodal Skills for Alexa</strong></h2> <p>Learn to design skills that shine across all Alexa-enabled devices including Echo Spot. Join our upcoming webinar to learn how to add imagery, video, and formatted text content. <a href="http://dev.amazonappservices.com/designing-multimodal-skills-for-alexa-in-web-reg.html" target="_blank">Register now</a>&nbsp;to reserve your spot.</p> /blogs/alexa/post/0e4a72fb-6d3f-4966-bfdc-a2c9044615ac/jp-skillstore スキルストア掲載情報のヒント Yuka Gray 2018-04-23T07:26:04+00:00 2018-04-26T01:49:22+00:00 <p>世界では3万以上、日本では600以上のスキル(2018年3月末時点)が開発されており、スキルの数は日々増え続けています。スキルが認定されると、ユーザーが見つけて利用することができるように、<a href="https://www.amazon.co.jp/alexa-skills/b/ref=sd_allcat_kss?ie=UTF8&amp;node=4788676051">Alexaスキルストア</a>に掲載されます。より多くのユーザーにスキルをアピールするために、スキル名やアイコン、説明文などで、気を付けるべきポイントをご紹介します。</p> <p>世界では3万以上、日本では600以上のスキル(2018年3月末時点)が開発されており、スキルの数は日々増え続けています。スキルが認定されると、ユーザーが見つけて利用することができるように、<a href="https://www.amazon.co.jp/alexa-skills/b/ref=sd_allcat_kss?ie=UTF8&amp;node=4788676051">Alexaスキルストア</a>に掲載されます。より多くのユーザーにスキルをアピールするために、スキル名やアイコン、説明文などで、気を付けるべきポイントをご紹介します。</p> <p><img alt="Promoting your skill" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/skill_marketing_blog._CB490894024_.png" style="height:240px; width:954px" /></p> <p><strong>・スキル名と呼び出し名の最適化</strong></p> <p>何をするスキルなのか、スキルの特徴が分かりやすいスキル名をつけましょう。また、スキルを呼び出しやすくするために、スキル名は簡潔で、覚えやすいものであることも重要です。ユーザーが実際にスキルを使うように、「アレクサ、〇〇〇を開いて」と、スキルの<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/ja/docs/custom-skills/choose-the-invocation-name-for-a-custom-skill.html">呼び出し名</a>を声に出してみましょう。スキル名が短く直感的で言いやすいと、スキルを使いやすくなります。反対に、長いスキル名や発音しにくいもの、覚えにくいもの、過剰な期待を持たせるものは避けましょう。例えば、「Eメール管理」というスキル名をつけるのであれば、Eメールの送受信を声でコントロールできる機能は必須です。</p> <p>また、呼び出し名は他のスキルと区別できるユニークな名前、かつ、名詞2つ以上を組み合わせた形である必要があります。スキルの機能を表す言葉、企業名や開発者の名前に関連する言葉を使うと、ユニークかつ機能特有の名前を作成できます。 助詞をつなぎ語として使う場合は、<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/ja/docs/custom-skills/choose-the-invocation-name-for-a-custom-skill.html#invocation-name-requirements">こちらの点</a>に注意してください。</p> <p>(例)</p> <p>OK:「算数チューター」「浅草グルメ」</p> <p>NG:「算数」「チューター」「浅草」「グルメ」</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>その他にも、いくつかの要件がありますので、審査の提出前に、<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/ja/docs/custom-skills/choose-the-invocation-name-for-a-custom-skill.html">こちら</a>でご確認ください。</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>・スキルの機能を入れた分かりやすい説明文</strong></p> <p>説明文は、ユーザーの興味を引き、思わずスキルを試してみたくなる、説得力のある内容にしましょう。声でコントロールすることで実現できる便利さや楽しみ方、スキル特有の機能をはっきりと伝えることが大切です。「忙しい朝に役立つ」や「1日の終わりに」など、スキルの利用シーンを想起させる説明を入れるとより分かりやすくなります。</p> <p>定期的にスキル内のコンテンツを更新する場合は、その旨を説明文に入れましょう。明確な更新頻度を入れることで、ユーザーにスキルを使ってもらうきっかけを与えることができます。</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>・印象に残るアイコンのデザイン</strong></p> <p>スキルストアでは、スキルの説明と一緒にアイコンが表示されます。このアイコンはスキルストア内に掲載されている他のスキルと区別するために、とても重要です。単に派手で目立つアイコンではなく、何をするスキルなのか直感的に分かりやすいデザインが好まれます。アイコンをうまく活用して、ユーザーの興味を引けるよう、デザインの際に以下の点を参考にしてください。</p> <ul> <li style="text-align:left"><strong>シンプルに:</strong>スマートフォンなど小さな画面で見たときに見えづらいような細かいデザインは避けましょう。</li> <li style="text-align:left"><strong>文字は最小限に:アイコンに</strong>文字を入れる場合は、アイコンのフレーム内に収まり、小さな画面でも読みやすいサイズにしましょう。</li> <li style="text-align:left"><strong>アイコンのフレームに収まるように:</strong>四角のアイコンを丸いフレームに無理やり入れるのではなく、丸いフレームに収まるようなデザインを作ると、見やすいデザインになります。</li> </ul> <p style="text-align:left">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align:left"><strong>T</strong><strong>シャツプレゼントキャンペーン</strong></p> <p style="text-align:left">Alexaスキルを公開した開発者のみなさまに、Alexaグッズをプレゼントする <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/ja/alexa-skills-kit/alexa-developer-skill-promotion">キャンペーン</a>を行っています。スキルが期間内に公開され、かつキャンペーンにご応募いただいた方にAlexa Tシャツをプレゼントさせていただきます。</p> <p style="text-align:left"><img alt="Tシャツキャンペーン" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/mobile-apps/dex/alexa/alexa-skills-kit/jp/promotion/JP-Portal-Hero-Banner-NL-Hero._CB501599799_.png" style="height:223px; width:950px" /></p> <p style="text-align:left">みなさまがお持ちのオリジナルなアイデアをぜひスキルで実現させてみてください。ご応募お待ちしています。詳細は<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/ja/alexa-skills-kit/alexa-developer-skill-promotion">キャンペーンページ</a>へ。</p> /blogs/alexa/post/b66bf85d-b194-4e24-a5f1-302592074a22/with-alexa-developer-rewards-david-markey-says-alexa-changed-his-life With Alexa Developer Rewards, David Markey Says Alexa “Changed His Life” Jennifer King 2018-04-20T15:00:00+00:00 2018-04-20T15:00:00+00:00 <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/david_markey_blog._CB497729457_.png" /></p> <p>David Markey built his first custom skill in only one day. Within a month of launching his second skill, he had earned almost $1,500 in Alexa Developer Rewards.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/david_markey_blog._CB497729457_.png" /></p> <p>Brown University student David Markey attended an Alexa developer conference in August 2017 to learn more about building Alexa skills. The conference literally changed his life.</p> <p>“I had been coding since I was 14 but never for Alexa,” says Markey. “When Amazon launched Alexa Developer Rewards, I knew they were serious about it. I saw a big opportunity with Alexa, and I was eager to get started.”</p> <p>Having experimented before with <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/flash-briefing">Alexa flash briefing skills</a>, Markey built his first custom skill at the conference in only one day. On the train home, he created his second skill called <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Word-of-the-Day-Quiz/dp/B076B93YT7" target="_blank">Word of the Day Quiz</a>. Within a month of launching Word of the Day Quiz, Markey had earned almost $1,500 in Alexa Developer Rewards.</p> <p>“I was expecting just $10 or maybe $100, but nothing like this,” says Markey. “I've taken the rewards and reinvested them into creating even higher-quality Alexa skills that I would never have been able to create on my own dime.”</p> <p>The rewards from the conference didn’t end there. A fellow attendee connected Markey with a leader at a management consulting company in Boston. A couple of days and interviews later, Markey had landed his dream job—waiting for him when he graduates later this year.</p> <p>“The conference showed me just how extraordinary, sharing and generous the Alexa developer community is,” says Markey. “It also showed me the huge potential of a career developing for voice, and an almost instant flow of developer rewards proved it.”</p> <h2>From Flash Briefing to a Rewarding Custom Skill</h2> <p>Markey initially created the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Peppercorn-Media-Word-the-Day/dp/B06VTHH5MW" target="_blank">Word of the Day</a> as a flash briefing skill. But with the Alexa Developer Rewards, he saw the biggest opportunity to make money by building custom Alexa skills.</p> <p>“The flash briefing was popular, but a custom skill requires you to understand more about how Alexa works and how to pass requests and responses,” says Markey. “I went to the conference to learn how to leverage this technology so I could earn money with Alexa.”</p> <p>Since users don’t often get to practice using new words in day-to-day conversation, Markey then created <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Word-of-the-Day-Quiz/dp/B076B93YT7" target="_blank">Word of the Day Quiz</a> to reinforce what they learn in the flash briefing. The quiz provides a natural, entertaining way to test understanding and correct usage of the word.</p> <p>Markey says the quiz is so engaging because it provides a sense of surprise and fun in the interactions. More than reciting a definition and an example of today’s word in a sentence, Markey records punchy and even silly dialog to make listening fun, then quizzes users to ensure they understand the word.</p> <p>The quiz also delivers “reward” and “streak” content, including a witty song for first-time users and after playing the quiz for 30 days. There's also congratulatory content for milestones, like an epic movie-type announcement when users play the quiz for 3 days.</p> <p>“I focused on creating a ‘streak’ mechanism to drive retention and give people a spark of joy in the skill,” says Markey. “Giving users something different to look forward to for being diligent helps ensure they return day after day.”</p> <p>Markey still maintains the original flash briefing, which shares some of the quiz’s audio content. And by promoting the quiz in the daily flash briefing, Markey is able to build audience and user retention for the quiz, which further increases his reward payouts.</p> <p>“I just tell flash briefing listeners they can reinforce the word they just heard by playing Word of the Day Quiz,” says Markey. “That’s how I drive new and repeat traffic to the custom skill, which keeps me involved in the developer rewards program.”</p> <h2>Elevating Voice Experiences with Developer Rewards</h2> <p>As a student on a budget, Markey took some financial risks when building Word of the Day Quiz. But as the monthly payouts began, he saw the opportunity to deliver even more amazing experiences.</p> <p>Alexa Developer Rewards enable him to hire professional actors to add vocal variety to the skills and musicians to write and record music and songs. Perhaps more importantly, he is able to pay a fellow student to help him build more Alexa skills.</p> <p>“I knew entertaining content would be crucial to driving retention on the skill,” says Markey. “It ended up being a good calculated risk. The rewards have allowed me to create even better content, and to pour even more effort into new skills like <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Peppercorn-Media-Price-It-Right/dp/B07871TGCT" target="_blank">Price It Right</a>.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Peppercorn-Media-Price-It-Right/dp/B07871TGCT" target="_blank">Price It Right</a> is a multi-player game that lets users compete to guess the prices of actual items on Amazon.com. Markey combined everything he learned from Word of the Day Quiz to make Price It Right the most engaging, highest-retaining Alexa skill possible. He says those lessons include giving skills more personality, adding an occasional element of surprise, and reducing potential user confusion wherever possible.</p> <p>“Once again, I’m able to pay for real music and real human audio for the interactions so Alexa can respond to players as a real human would,” says Markey. “And as far as I can tell from the stats, it has far exceeded my expectations for its ability to drive user engagement.”</p> <h2>Quality is the Key to Monetizing Skills</h2> <p>Markey advises Alexa developers to leverage the power and openness of the Alexa developer community for help, tips, and feedback. Developers can participate in online forums, follow the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/4a39d8bf-e27e-4da1-8a37-1196d3bd1f5c/how-to-increase-customer-engagement-with-your-alexa-skill">Alexa blog</a>, and attend <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa/devday">workshops and conferences</a>. But they can also reach out to experienced developers with an email or social media. Many of these—including Markey—include email address in their online skill descriptions and are excited to respond to questions and new ideas from fellow developers.</p> <p>“Connect and work with other developers,” he says. “You’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort. It’s made a ton of difference in my own development experience just having someone to bounce ideas off of.”</p> <p>But of all the tips Markey can share about building high-earning Alexa skills, the first and foremost is to build quality into your skill from the beginning. From the interaction model to the voices, from audio tracks to special effects, quality is what keeps people coming back.</p> <p>“The reason I focus so heavily on the quality of my skills is because it really makes a difference in how you stand out and get noticed in the Alexa Skills Store,” says Markey. “People are hungry for voice experiences that provide human quality audio and feel as natural as a real conversation. When you give them that, that’s when you find your rewards.”</p> <h2>Build Engaging Skills, Earn Money with Alexa Developer Rewards</h2> <p>Every month, developers can earn money for eligible skills that drive some of the highest customer engagement. Developers can increase their level of skill engagement and potentially earn more by improving their skill, building more skills, and making their skills available in in the US, UK and Germany.<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/rewards"> Learn more</a> about our rewards program and start building today.<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/guide/build-engaging-skills"> Download our guide</a> or watch our<a href="https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4673294238964482305" target="_blank"> on-demand webinar</a> for tips to build engaging skills.</p> /blogs/alexa/post/9c769704-b6c1-466d-ac90-2c386848e508/personalize-your-alexa-experience-in-minutes-with-alexa-skill-blueprints Personalize Your Alexa Experience in Minutes with Alexa Skill Blueprints Brian Crum 2018-04-19T13:10:37+00:00 2018-04-19T14:02:10+00:00 <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/blog(12)._CB497405295_.png" style="height:240px; width:954px" /></p> <p>Amazon today introduced <a href="http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2343493" target="_blank">Alexa Skill Blueprints</a>, a new way to create your own personalized skills and responses for Alexa. Using a set of easy-to-use templates, anyone can create customized experiences for Alexa within minutes.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/blog(12)._CB497405295_.png" style="height:240px; width:954px" /></p> <p>Amazon today <a href="http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2343493" target="_blank">introduced Alexa Skill Blueprints</a>, a new way to create your own personalized skills and responses for Alexa. Using a set of easy-to-use templates, anyone can create customized experiences for Alexa within minutes. Whether it’s your own answer to the question &quot;Alexa, what is the best city?&quot; or a skill that offers helpful information for the pet sitter, <a href="https://blueprints.amazon.com/" target="_blank">Skill Blueprints</a> allow you to build personalized voice experiences with Alexa, helping you make Alexa even more useful around your home.</p> <p>Using Skill Blueprints is as easy as filling in the blanks. You can have fun customizing Alexa’s responses to questions like “Alexa, who is the best mom in the world?” or “Alexa, am I your favorite painter?” You can also use Skill Blueprints to create an interactive adventure story with your child as the lead character with the “Adventure” Blueprint, or create a skill to poke fun at Dad’s corny one liners with the “Family Jokes” Blueprint. &nbsp;</p> <p>The skills and responses you create with Skill Blueprints will be available instantly on all Alexa-enabled devices associated with your account. The Skill Blueprints announced today are for personal use only, and are not published to the Alexa Skills Store. Skills Blueprints are available today to customers in the US.</p> <p>While Skills Blueprints introduce a new way to build personal experiences for Alexa, the self-service APIs, tools, documentation, and code samples in the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/" target="_blank">Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)</a> – accessible from the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/8914b24e-8546-4775-858c-becd800a3c2f/the-new-alexa-skills-kit-developer-console-is-now-generally-available" target="_blank">new developer console</a> or when used with one of our&nbsp;<a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa/agencies-and-tools" target="_blank">agencies or tool providers</a> – enable you to build engaging skills and publish to the Alexa Skills Store to reach customers through tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices.</p> <h2>Start Building Personalized Voice Experiences Today with Skill Blueprints</h2> <p>There are more than 20 Skill Blueprints available across four categories,&nbsp;and the selection will continue to grow:</p> <p><strong>At Home</strong></p> <ul> <li>Custom Q&amp;A: Customize responses to your questions</li> <li>Houseguest: Make your guests feel at home with quick access to important info</li> <li>Babysitter: Help your sitter find things, remember steps and get important info</li> <li>Pet Sitter: Help your pet sitter care for your favorite animal</li> </ul> <p><strong>Fun &amp; Games</strong></p> <ul> <li>Family Jokes: Create a list of your favorite jokes for when you need a laugh</li> <li>Trivia: Create your own multiple choice trivia game on any topic</li> <li>Inspirations: Curate a list of your favorite inspirational quotes</li> <li>Family Trivia: Play together and brush up on family history</li> <li>Bachelorette Party: Play to find out how well the bride’s friends know her</li> <li>Birthday Trivia: Play to see who knows the birthday girl or boy best</li> <li>Burns: Roast your friends and family with lighthearted burns</li> <li>Compliments: Flatter your favorites with a list of custom compliments</li> <li>Double Trouble: Find out which couple knows each other best with this customizable game</li> <li>First Letter: Play a game of categories starting with a certain letter</li> </ul> <p><strong>Storyteller</strong></p> <ul> <li>Adventure: Write an adventure story where your child is the hero</li> <li>Fairy Tale: Customize an interactive prince and princess-themed tale</li> <li>Sci-Fi: Create an interactive story with a far-out theme</li> <li>Fable: Create a short narrative with a moral of the story</li> </ul> <p><strong>Learning &amp; Knowledge</strong></p> <ul> <li>Flash Cards: Study, test yourself, and master any subject by voice</li> <li>Facts: Keep a list of facts on your favorite topic, all in one place</li> <li>Quiz: Challenge yourself and others with a customizable quiz</li> </ul> <h2>How to Get Started with Skill Blueprints</h2> <p>Follow these three steps to start creating your own personalized voice experiences for Alexa:</p> <ol> <li>Select your Skill Blueprint. Visit <a href="https://blueprints.amazon.com/">blueprints.amazon.com</a> to browse more than 20 Skill Blueprints across four categories, including Fun &amp; Games, At Home, Storyteller, and Learning &amp; Knowledge.</li> <li>Add your skill content and unleash your creativity. Each Skill Blueprint comes with pre-filled content that can be used as-is or customized as you like.</li> <li>Complete your personalized skill with just one click. Your skill will be available on all Alexa-enabled devices associated with your Amazon account.</li> </ol> <p>There is no limit to the number of skills you can create. Need to add even more hilarious jokes to your “Dad’s Jokes” skill? You can easily edit and add more content to your skill from the Skill Blueprints website.</p> <p>Skill Blueprints are available now for customers in the US. Visit <a href="http://blueprints.amazon.com" target="_blank">blueprints.amazon.com</a> to start building your personalized Alexa skills.</p> <h2>More Resources</h2> <p>For more information about Skill Blueprints, visit our <a href="https://blueprints.amazon.com/help/frequently-asked-questions" target="_blank">FAQ</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Join us <a href="https://www.twitch.tv/amazonalexa" target="_blank">live on Twitch</a> for <em>Creating Personalized Alexa Skills with Alexa Skill Blueprints</em>, starting at 2 PM PST on Friday, April 20.&nbsp;</p> /blogs/alexa/post/d1e8b7d5-c93f-490e-a8b0-c8c53506e04e/6-dialog-management-resources-to-build-advanced-alexa-skills 6 Dialog Management Resources to Build Advanced Alexa Skills Jennifer King 2018-04-19T12:00:00+00:00 2018-04-19T14:01:41+00:00 <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/c53f5d9ea335b8d81da9f7403b793abc564f0236062f4430b4c08fabdfca5189_64a500f8-d83f-4eba-bf6e-533225cf2cf1._CB488143019_.png" style="height:240px; width:954px" /></p> <p>This resource roundup features our top blog posts on dialog management to help you build conversational Alexa skills.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/default/c53f5d9ea335b8d81da9f7403b793abc564f0236062f4430b4c08fabdfca5189_64a500f8-d83f-4eba-bf6e-533225cf2cf1._CB488143019_.png" style="height:240px; width:954px" /></p> <p>Conversations are not scripted. When you ask someone a question, the person may or may not provide all of the information that was asked. They may even provide more. When designing your Alexa skill, it’s important to start with this conversation in mind. In an Alexa skill, a dialog with the user is a conversation with multiple turns in which Alexa asks questions and the user responds with the answers.</p> <p>For example, let’s say you built a skill that could book a flight, and it asked the user, “Where are you going?” to which the user replies, “I’m going to Tokyo next Tuesday.” Your skill should recognize that the user gave you more information than what was asked. If you follow up by asking, “When are you leaving?” the user will be frustrated since they’ve already told you when. On the other hand, if your skill asks, “When and where are you going?” and user replies, “I’m going to Tokyo.” Then your skill should recognize that it only received one piece of the necessary information and ask, “Where are you going?” as a follow-up question.</p> <p>There are also many ways to express the same idea, so you should think about the different words you might use when asking a question or the different ways Alexa could respond. For example, if you wanted to ask about the weather, you might use different words like “downpour,” “shower,” “storm,” and “rainstorm” to refer to the “rain.” This ability to use different words occurs naturally in everyday conversation. When incorporated into Alexa skills, you can allow users to have conversations in the way that comes naturally to them, creating an engaging voice experience. Entity resolution allows you to map synonyms to your slot values so you can add more variation into how the user may fill slots.</p> <p>Dialog management makes these types of conversational voice experiences possible. We’ve shared several best practices on the topic over the last several months. Combined with <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/5de2b24d-d932-4c6f-950d-d09d8ffdf4d4/entity-resolution-and-slot-validation">entity resolution</a>, you can easily disambiguate synonyms that have resolved to more than one value that you have defined. If you’re ready to enhance your Alexa skills using dialog management to enable multi-turn conversations, check out our latest roundup of tutorials, sample skills, and blog posts to get started.</p> <h2><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/5b0efd02-0ed0-42d5-b922-5ee594d30a38/new-alexa-skills-kit-template-build-an-alexa-decision-tree-skill">Tutorial: Enable Multi-Turn Dialog with the Decision Tree Sample Skill</a></h2> <p>The decision tree sample skill is a great way to practice using dialog management and entity resolution. Previously this sample skill only allowed Alexa to ask yes/no questions. Depending on the answer, Alexa would ask a follow-up question. By applying dialog management, Alexa can ask more engaging questions to collect a set of necessary slots and deliver a more conversational experience to your users. <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/5b0efd02-0ed0-42d5-b922-5ee594d30a38/new-alexa-skills-kit-template-build-an-alexa-decision-tree-skill">Check out this post</a> to learn more about how you can use the updated sample skill template for a basic decision tree skill.</p> <h2><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/555d00d6-66b4-4f0b-8974-2021cd9a1630/alexa-skill-teardown-decoding-dialog-management-with-pet-match">Decoding Dialog Management with the Pet Match Skill</a></h2> <p>Pet Match is another sample skill you can use to learn the ins and outs of dialog management.</p> <p>By applying dialog management, Pet Match gains the flexibility to collect the slots, all at once in a one-shot utterance and one or many slots in a multi-turn sequence without writing any code to manage keeping track of which required slots are still missing. This <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/555d00d6-66b4-4f0b-8974-2021cd9a1630/alexa-skill-teardown-decoding-dialog-management-with-pet-match">skill teardown</a> will walk you through activating dialog management in your voice user interface, and the blocks of code in the backend that hook into the dialog management state machine and delegate collection back to Alexa.</p> <h2><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/79bc6f74-cfef-47d0-a069-5ed7c0ee5722/taking-control-of-the-dialog-management-state-machine">Taking Control of the Dialog Management State Machine</a></h2> <p>Dialog management greatly reduces the necessary coding required to reprompt for missing slot values. From your interaction model, you mark which slots are required and provide a set of prompts and utterances for each required slot. From your backend, you delegate the collection of the slots to Alexa. Each interaction between the customer and Alexa during dialog management allows to you hook into the state machine and perform your own logic. <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/79bc6f74-cfef-47d0-a069-5ed7c0ee5722/taking-control-of-the-dialog-management-state-machine">Check out this post</a> to discover how you can leverage dialog management to delegate the state management to Alexa.</p> <h2><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/d8579cd6-9109-42b2-ada6-df017fc1dee5/how-to-handle-different-intent-requests-with-dialog-management">How to Enable Alexa to Switch Context Mid-Conversation</a></h2> <p>When you have a natural conversation with another person, you might find the conversation can take different directions. Therefore, the context of the conversation can change quite rapidly. The previous iteration of dialog management required the user to complete the dialog to switch context to a different intent, but recent updates now make it possible to switch context between intents part-way through. <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/d8579cd6-9109-42b2-ada6-df017fc1dee5/how-to-handle-different-intent-requests-with-dialog-management">Read the post</a> to learn more about how you can enable Alexa to maintain context while switching between intents.</p> <h2><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/44dd83f4-4842-40c5-91f8-3868b9f4608c/using-dialog-management-to-capture-a-and-b-or-c-slots">Using Dialog Management to Capture A and B or C Slots</a></h2> <p>For more advanced multi-turn conversations, you can lean on dialog management to simplify collecting a set of required slots that an intent needs to perform its task for the user. <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/44dd83f4-4842-40c5-91f8-3868b9f4608c/using-dialog-management-to-capture-a-and-b-or-c-slots">This post</a> walks you through how you can use dialog management to pull a set of required slots from your user based on a condition.</p> <h2><a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/5fe7565a-9547-4e03-be36-6c62ed356d57/dynamically-elicit-slots-during-dialog-management-based-on-previously-given-slot-values">Eliciting Slots Dynamically with Dialog Management</a></h2> <p>Because dialog management requires you to predefine a set of prompts for each required slot, it seems like it wouldn’t be possible to dynamically change Alexa’s response. However, you can use the dialog management state machine to override prompts and determine which slot is going to be prompted for next, including optional slots. <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/blogs/alexa/post/5fe7565a-9547-4e03-be36-6c62ed356d57/dynamically-elicit-slots-during-dialog-management-based-on-previously-given-slot-values">This post</a> walks you through how to accomplish dynamic slot elicitation by overriding predefined prompts and elicited slots with dialog management, using a skill that recommends products as the example.</p> <h2>Build Engaging Skills, Earn Money with Alexa Developer Rewards</h2> <p>Using dialog management, you can build more engaging skills that customers love, and potentially earn rewards. Every month, developers can earn money for eligible skills that drive some of the highest customer engagement. Developers can increase their level of skill engagement and potentially earn more by improving their skill, building more skills, and making their skills available in in the US, the UK and Germany. <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/rewards">Learn more</a> about our rewards program and start building today.</p> /blogs/alexa/post/9151c680-ddba-4b37-ace1-bc356e5c38c0/publishing-your-device-s-capabilities-to-alexa Publishing Your Product's Capabilities to Alexa Ted Karczewski 2018-04-19T12:00:00+00:00 2018-04-19T12:00:00+00:00 <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/AlexaVoiceService/OTA-API-Update-blog._CB497502210_.png" /></p> <p>We're excited to announce the AVS Capabilities API. As Alexa gets smarter with new features and updates that require client-side code changes, you can use the Capabilities API to let Alexa know which interfaces and interface versions your product supports following an over-the-air update.</p> <p><img alt="" src="https://m.media-amazon.com/images/G/01/DeveloperBlogs/AlexaBlogs/AlexaVoiceService/OTA-API-Update-blog._CB497502210_.png" /></p> <p>Today we’re excited to announce the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/alexa-voice-service/capabilities-api.html">Capabilities API</a>. As Alexa gets smarter with new features and updates that require client-side code changes, you can use the Capabilities API to let Alexa know which interfaces and interface versions your product&nbsp;supports following an over-the-air (OTA) update.</p> <p>For example, after your product&nbsp;installs an OTA update that adds support for a new Alexa feature, you publish your product's new capabilities to Alexa by specifying the interfaces and interface versions your product supports using the Capabilities API. Alexa will only enable a new feature on products that have successfully installed your OTA update and are ready to support the new feature, leaving products that have not yet updated, unchanged.</p> <p>We are also introducing interface versioning, which enables you to clearly understand changes made to the APIs as new features are added or updated, and communicate those versions to Alexa using the Capabilities API.</p> <p><strong>Device makers who want to upgrade their Alexa-enabled products to support new Alexa features can follow these steps:</strong></p> <p><em>Note: If you are using the AVS Device SDK v1.7 or later, no further action is required.</em><em> </em></p> <h2>1. Familiarize yourself with interface versioning</h2> <p>When new directives and events are added to&nbsp;or removed from&nbsp;an interface, or when message payloads are adjusted, impacted interfaces will be versioned independently using a MAJOR.MINOR scheme.</p> <p><strong>Major Version</strong></p> <p>The MAJOR number for an interface version is increased when incompatibilities are introduced.</p> <p><strong>Minor Version</strong></p> <p>The MINOR number for an interface version is increased for backward compatible, non-breaking changes.</p> <p>For more details on interface versioning and for a list of current and supported interface versions, please see the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/alexa-voice-service/capabilities-api.html" target="_blank">Capabilities API documentation</a>&nbsp;on the AVS Developer Portal.</p> <h2>2. Update your AVS client code to support the Capabilities API</h2> <p>Capabilities is a new HTTP1.1 API that you must call when your product is first unboxed or when the firmware on your product changes to support new Alexa features. When you call the API, you must provide the complete list of interfaces and interface versions that your product supports.</p> <p>Please see the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/docs/alexa-voice-service/capabilities-api.html" target="_blank">Capabilities API documentation</a> for a more detailed discussion of the API&nbsp;and a complete set of use cases.</p> <h2>AVS Sample App on GitHub</h2> <p>The AVS Device SDK v1.7 and later supports the Capabilities API and interface versioning. Build your first prototype with Raspberry Pi or download the latest code to see the new features.&nbsp;<a href="https://github.com/alexa/avs-device-sdk/wiki">Prototype with the updated AVS Device SDK for C++ Client for Raspberry Pi now.</a></p> <h2>What is AVS?</h2> <p>AVS is a customizable suite of development tools and resources that make it easy to integrate Alexa directly into your products and bring voice-forward experiences to customers. Through AVS, device makers can add a new natural interface to their products and offer customers access to a growing number of Alexa features, smart home integrations, and skills. Visit the <a href="https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-voice-service" target="_blank">AVS Developer Portal</a> to get started.</p>