Updated: April 14, 2023
The companion app for Alexa customers to set up devices, change settings, and see the displayed output from interactions with Alexa.
A device that provides access to the Alexa service. Examples include Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Echo Show, and devices made by other manufacturers that use the Alexa Voice Service.
Alexa service / Alexa
The cloud-based voice service that powers Alexa-enabled devices made by Amazon or other manufacturers. You can give Alexa new abilities by creating your own cloud-based service that accepts requests from Alexa and returns responses.
Alexa Skills Kit
A collection of APIs, tools, and documentation for giving Alexa new capabilities. See What is the Alexa Skills Kit?
Alexa Presentation Language (APL)
A composable, responsive layout language from Amazon that is used to create interactive visual experiences for Alexa. See Understand Alexa Presentation Language (APL).
A word or phrase that refers back to something earlier in a sentence or conversation. This may be a pronoun such as his, hers, it, that and other words, but anaphors can also be longer phrases. The meaning of the word or phrase comes from the context established earlier in the conversation. Contextual carryover utterances frequently include anaphors.
Stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number. A unique set of 10 letters and numbers used for product identification within the Amazon catalog.
See Home card or Detail card.
The total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory, or how difficult it is for a user to understand or parse the information being presented to them.
See Alexa app.
When Alexa responds with a word or phrase that lets the customer know the request was understood correctly. Types of confirmation include Implicit confirmation and Explicit confirmation.
Information that is run through visual markup language in order to display it on screen in accompaniment to the voice interaction.
A card displayed in the Alexa app with information about the skill and how to use it. Customers can review detail cards and enable the skills they want. You enter most of the information displayed on the detail card on the Launch Your Skill page.
When something unexpected happened in the conversation between Alexa and the customer. Types of dialogue errors include low confidence errors, timeouts/silence/no input, and false accepts. For recommendations on how to handle dialogue errors, see the section on Error messages in the Alexa Design Guide.
A brief sound, or audible icon, that is distinctive enough to use represent a specific event or convey other information to a customer.
See Alexa app.
A condition or set of circumstances a customer might encounter in your skill that aren’t typical.
The message delivered to a customer when an utterance or technical error occurs during a dialog. See also page link: system error>.
A phrase showing customers what they need to say to begin using your custom skill. You'll enter these phrases in the Distribution tab of the developer console. The phrases must also be included in your list of Sample utterances.
When the customer says a command like exit or stop to end the interaction.
The message delivered when a customer asks the skill to stop/exit or when the conversation with the skill comes to a natural end.
A prompt that repeats back what Alexa heard and explicitly asks the customer to confirm whether they were correct. For example, Alexa, ask Astrology Daily for my horoscope. Alexa would respond with, You wanted a horoscope from Astrology Daily, right?
false accept error
When Alexa has mid to high confidence in understanding what the customer said, but actually misunderstands and uses an utterance that doesn't match.
full intent invocation
A customer's request that contains all information Alexa needs to make the request actionable. For example, Alexa, ask History Buff what happened on June 3rd.
A gradient scrim is a lightweight, translucent gradient layer that helps text appear more readable against backgrounds.
graphical user interface (GUI)
A method for people to interact with and control computers and devices through visual indicators such as icons and imagery instead of using a command-line interface.
The message delivered to a customer who either asks the skill for help or reaches an error message too many consecutive times. A high-level help message delivers information about the skill and its features that includes similar information as the first-time welcome message. Contextual help messages are delivered when the customer is trying to use a specific feature or is stuck on a certain task or prompt.
A text string that represents an action or utterance that a customer can say while engaging with your skill.
An element displayed in the Alexa app to describe or enhance a voice interaction with a custom skill. See Including a Card in Your Skill's Response.
implicit confirmation (landmarking)
A prompt that subtly repeats back what Alexa heard to give the customer assurance that they were correctly understood. In the following example, repeating back the word horoscope is a landmarking technique used to establish trust with the customer but still supports natural dialog.
For example, Alexa, ask Astrology Daily for my horoscope. Alexa would then ask to clarify the request with, Horoscope for what sign?
in-skill purchasing (ISP)
A digital good that is purchased during a skill session for use withing the skill.
A representation of the action that fulfills a customer's spoken request. Intents can have further arguments called slots that represent variable information. For example, Alexa, ask History Buff what happened on June third. In this statement, …what happened on June third maps to a specific intent that can be handled by a particular Alexa ability. This tells Alexa that the user wants the skill History Buff to get historical information on a specific date.
For details about defining intents, see Create Intents, Utterances, and Slots.
An exchange of information in conversational format between the user and Alexa. This may be a single request-response, or a more extended set of turns.
When the interaction between Alexa and the customer is interrupted by another event. Examples of interruptions are alarms and timers going off while the customer is talking to Alexa.
The act of beginning an interaction with a particular Alexa ability. For example, if a customer wants to wake Alexa to use the Horoscope skill, Alexa, ask Horoscope for today's reading.
Alexa then follows up after the invocation and asks, What horoscope sign would you like?
Types of invocations include: full intent invocation, partial intent invocation, and no intent invocation.
A name that represents the skill that the user wants to use. The user says a supported phrase in combination with the invocation name for a skill to begin interacting with that skill. For example, Alexa, ask History Buff what happened on June third. In this example, History Buff is the invocation name for a skill that retrieves historical events. Note that smart home skills don't have invocation names.
See Implicit confirmation.
A visual template which describes how components are placed within the screen boundaries or space allocated to Alexa on any device. You can define a layout one time and use it in multiple places within an APL document.
link account card
A special type of card (LinkAccount) displayed in the Alexa App that tells the user to link their account. The user can start the account linking process right from this card. A custom skill can respond with this card if a user who has not linked their account tries to invoke an intent that requires authentication.
a diagram that maps relationships between decision points in a given interaction
low confidence errors
When Alexa has low confidence in understanding what the customer said and proceeds either without requesting clarification or ends in the interaction.
Conversational markers, or cues, are words or sentence clauses that indicate the status of a dialog to a customer. For example, “First,” “Next,” “I'll need some information from you,” etc.
max error condition
When consecutive dialogue errors occur, this terminates the interaction and is designed to keep Alexa from making the same mistake repeatedly.
Describes an interface which has at least two modalities (such as voice and haptics, or voice and screen), Each input changes the way a customer can interact with the experience, but the two should work together fluidly.
no intent invocation
A customer's request with no intent or slot information. For example, Alexa, open History Buff.
When the customer takes an action that requires Alexa to inform them at a later time that an event is occurring or about to occur. The most common examples of this are alarms and timers. A notification can occur if nothing else is going on at all, or they also can occur in the form of an interruption while the customer is interacting with Alexa. In this case, the notification is delivered between turns during an interaction.
A type of in-skill purchase that is purchased and usable indefinitely within a skill session. On-time purchases do not expire.
open ended prompt
A prompt that asks the customer a question intended to elicit a wide range of responses. For example, What would you like to do?
A slot that contains values that refine the user's request, but are not necessary for Alexa to complete the task. For example, Alexa, ask History Buff what happened in history on June third. Here, …June third is optional since History Buff can just give historical events for today if the user does not specify a date. As such, you should not ask the user for optional slot values if they exclude them.
partial intent invocation
A customer's request that contains the customer's intent, but is missing a required slot. For example, Alexa, ask Horoscope for today's reading. Here, the required zodiac sign is missing, and Alexa needs to obtain that information from the customer.
A string of text that should be spoken to the customer to ask for more information. You include the prompt text in your response to a customer's request. Types of prompts include: Open ended, Menu style, Re-prompt, and Implicit confirmation (Landmarking).
A set of parameters that you can specify to change the default behavior or appearance of a component or response.
With a customer’s permission, Alexa can wake up and make an announcement to remind them to do a task. The customer may set a reminder themselves without using a skill, or your skill may offer to set, change, or cancel a reminder on their behalf.
A special kind of prompt used by Alexa when a response is not heard or clearly understandable, usually in the form of a question after a dialog error has occurred. The general purpose of a re-prompt is to help the customer recover from errors. For example,
Customer: Alexa, open Score Keeper.
Alexa: Welcome back to Score Keeper. What's your update?
In this case, if the customer doesn't respond, Alexa would continue with helpful tips. For example,
Alexa: You can add points for a player, ask for the current score, or start a new game. To hear a list of everything you can do, say Help. Now, what would you like to do?
When a customer repeatedly uses a skill over a long period of time. A measurement of retention refers to the percentage of customers who continue using a skill over a specified period of time.
A slot that contains values that are necessary for Alexa to complete the user's request. For example, Alexa, ask Astrology Daily for the horoscope for Taurus. Without the name of the specific zodiac sign, Astrology Daily cannot provide a horoscope. If the user does not provide a value for a required slot, you must ask the user for that slot value.
A structured string of text that connects a specific intent to a likely utterance. You provide a set of sample utterances as part of your interaction model for a custom skill. When customers say one of these utterances, the Alexa service sends a request to your service that includes the corresponding intent.
A set of actions or tasks that are accomplished by Alexa. Skills are like apps for Alexa, helping customers perform everyday tasks or engage with your content naturally with voice. Alexa provides built-in functionality, such as timers and alarms. You can use the Alexa Skills Kit to create skills for Alexa. A skill includes both the code, in the form of a cloud-based service, and the configuration provided on the developer console.
An argument to an intent that gives Alexa more information about that request. For example, Alexa, ask History Buff what happened on June third. In this statement, …June third is the value of a date slot that refines the request. For a given intent, slots can be required or optional. To designate slots as required and let Alexa manage the conversation to collect the slot values, create a dialog model and then delegate the dialog to Alexa.
Visual attributes and assets which control the look and feel of the Alexa experience. All components, layouts, and patterns inherit these values. Styles are delivered within themes and devices can expose multiple themes such as day and night mode.
Occurs when something unexpected happened, unrelated to the dialogue between the customer and Alexa. For example, the call for a data service used to get the information the customer requested was unable to send Alexa that information.Learn more about errors in Natural Speech: Handle Errors Gracefully
One of the words a user can say to tell Alexa to invoke a particular custom skill. This is used in combination with the invocation name for the skill. For example, Alexa, tell Color Expert that my favorite color is red. There are several phrases users can say to start a conversation with Alexa. See Understanding How Users Invoke Custom Skills.
A document that expresses the arrangement and display of visual components.
Converts a string of text to synthesized speech (Alexa's voice). The Alexa service can take plain text for TTS conversion.
timeouts/silence/no response errors
When the customer does not respond to a question Alexa asked. A re-prompt is usually played to encourage the customer to respond.
A touch on an Alexa-enabled device with a screen that produces a specified response, such as touching an item in a list on the screen to see more information about the item.
A single request to or a response from Alexa. Sometimes turn refers to only the request side of a conversation, for example:
Customer: Alexa, open Horoscope.
Alexa: What horoscope sign would you like?
Alexa: Today's horoscope for Pisces is…
The words a user says to Alexa to convey what they want to do, or to provide a response to a question Alexa asks. For skills that use one of the pre-built voice interaction models, Alexa provides predefined utterances and associated requests. For skills developed with the custom voice interaction model, you provide a set of sample utterances that map to a request (intent). For details, see About Voice Interaction Models.
A voice-optimized multimodal concept where the GUI is optimized for voice. This means that buttons, links, and other touch affordances are replaced by voice-friendly affordances like action hints.
voice user interface (VUI)
A method for people to use voice input to interact with and control computers and devices. For a custom skill, the voice interface consists of a mapping between users' spoken utterances and the intents your cloud-based service can handle. See Interaction Model Schemas.
A command that the customer says to start speaking with Alexa. For example, Alexa, open History Buff. Here, Alexa is the wake word. Alexa customers can select from a defined set of wake words: Alexa, Amazon, Echo, and Computer.
The message delivered when a customer invokes a skill without a request.