Start Creating an Optimized Alexa Skill Experience for the New Echo Show 5
Franklin Lobb May 29, 2019
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Editor’s Note: You can find regional availabilty and shipping schedules of Echo Show 5 in the device announcement. All APL updates mentioned in the blog are available in all locales.

Today, Amazon announced the newest addition to the Echo Show family—Echo Show 5. With its compact design, 5.5-inch display, rich sound, and built-in camera shutter, Echo Show 5 lets Alexa show you things in every room of your home—all for only $89.99. Echo Show 5 is available for pre-order and will begin shipping in late June.

With the announcement of the new Echo Show 5, we are expanding the range of multimodal devices that the Alexa Presentation Language (APL) supports to help you reach more customers with your voice-first visual skill experiences.

Alexa Blog

This new device brings you a new viewport profile to work with. To help you offer a functioning user experience with your existing APL skills in the short term, the new device will automatically scale APL responses to fit on the screen. However, we strongly recommend enhancing your customer experience by updating APL responses to be optimized for this new device. In the coming weeks, we’ll share how you can opt out of automatic scaling for your APL skills once you’ve included an experience optimized for Echo Show 5. Please be sure to check the Alexa developer blog for updates. For skills using display templates, no updates are required.

Tools and Tips to Build for Echo Show 5

Starting today, you can build an optimized experience for the new Echo Show 5 using the updated APL authoring tool, simulator, and the latest Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) Software Development Kit (SDK). To pass certification successfully and offer a great customer experience, make sure to include an optimized experience for each of the different viewport profiles for all future submissions, including the new Hub Landscape Small profile.

The APL authoring tool now supports the new Hub Landscape Small profile created for the Echo Show 5. We have also added support for Echo Show 5 to the latest the ASK SDK. You can access the new viewport profile either in your skill lambda using the Alexa.getViewportProfile() function in the latest ASK SDK (the value returned for the Echo Show 5 is HUB-LANDSCAPE-SMALL) or using the @viewportProfile value @hubLandscapeSmall in a “when” clause in your APL document.

Once you have optimized your experience on the Hub Landscape Small profile, you can opt out of the automatic scaling of your APL skills for Echo Show 5. As mentioned earlier, we will be sharing more information about the opt out flag on the Alexa developer blog in the coming weeks. If you submit your skill for certification and the automatic scaling doesn’t produce a working display on Echo Show 5 (most of the time this results from how APL documents are structured), you will need to update it before your skill will pass certification.

Updates to the APL Authoring Tool

In addition to supporting the new viewport profile in the authoring tool, we’ve added additional improvements, including a field-based user interface for editing APL documents. When using this new user interface, the properties you can specify are shown with input fields to contain your value. Since you aren’t editing the JSON directly, the chances of setting the wrong property values are significantly lower. As a bonus, you don't have to remember exact property names to use APL components and layouts. From now on, the authoring tool also highlights any component selected in the component hierarchy in the editor, making it easy to see which component you are modifying. Read our technical documentation to learn more.

Resources

We’re excited to see what you build with APL and to see you reach more customers with the addition of the Echo Show 5. To help you get started, we’ve updated the existing APL sample skills like Sauce Boss, and updated the documentation. Tweet me at @FranklinLobb or @aruntalkstech and we’d be happy to take a look, or share your feedback on the Alexa developer forum. Make sure add the "APL" topic to your post.