What's New in the Alexa Skills Kit: September 2019 Release Roundup

Leo Ohannesian Oct 10, 2019
Game Skills News Localization Personalization Build Developer Console CLI Multimodal Alexa-Hosted Skills Release Roundup

Editor's Note: Our monthly release roundup series showcases the latest in Alexa Skills Kit developer tools and features that can make your skills easier to manage, simpler to deploy, and more engaging for your customers. Build with these new capabilities to enable your Alexa skills to drive brand or revenue objectives.

In this roundup video we share details about the new things released for skill developers last month, including the Web API for Games (Preview), Alexa-hosted Skills Python Support, the NLU Evalution tool, and all of the announcements from our September Event. Check out the entire video for more information from Alexa evangelists and code samples.

1. Read developer news related to the September event

We are excited to announce new developer tools to accompany a brand new line-up of Alexa devices. Now you can deliver skills in more places, build experiences for existing and new audiences, and reach more customers in their preferred languages. Check out the announcement here.


2. Publish visually rich, interactive skills with Alexa Presentation Language (APL), now generally available

Alexa Presentation Language (APL) is now generally available. We will continue to add new features, tools, and resources to APL over the coming months. Check out the announcement or read about it in our docs


3. Publish Spanish skills in the US and Make Money with In-Skill Purchasing (ISP) and Alexa Developer Rewards

In the coming weeks, you’ll be able to publish Spanish skills in the US and make money with in-skill purchasing (ISP) and Alexa Developer Rewards. Check out the announcement here and the technical documentation here. 


4. Build Games with Web Technologies (Preview)

The Alexa Web API for Games (Developer Preview) introduces new web technologies and tools to create visually rich and interactive voice-controlled game experiences. Read the announcement here or sign up for the preview


5. Use Alexa voice profiles (Preview) to personalize your content for your customers

Soon your skill will be able to deliver customized information based on who is speaking. Learn more and sign up for the Developer Preview here. Read the announcement here.


6. The Alexa Education Skill API (Preview) allows you to easily create voice interfaces for Education Technology Applications

With the Alexa Education Skill API (Developer Preview), integrating ed-tech systems such as Learning Management Systems (LMS), Student Information Systems (SIS), and Classroom Management and massively open online course (MOOC) platforms is quick and easy. Parents and students 13 and older can get information about their school and assignments directly from Alexa without the added step of opening a skill by asking “Alexa, how is Kaylee doing in school?” or “Alexa, what is my homework tonight?”. Read about it here


7. LEGO MINDSTORMS Voice Challenge: Powered by Alexa — Your Chance to Win Up to $100,000 in Prizes

We are thrilled to announce LEGO MINDSTORMS Voice Challenge: Powered by Alexa – an opportunity for Alexa developers, LEGO MINDSTORMS enthusiasts, and creators around the world to explore and build the future of voice-based experiences through construction and robotics play. Enter for your chance to win from over one hundred prizes worth up to $100,000. Read the announcement here. 


8. Populate custom slot values with URL reference to an existing catalog

We are excited to announce the launch of reference based Catalog management features (SMAPI and CLI) for managing custom slots. Using this feature, developers can now create slot types to ingest values from an external data source with a URL reference to the catalog. For example, a recipe skill developer will now be able to pull a list of ingredients from their existing catalog instead of having to enter each individual ingredients and keep both data sources in sync. Read the technical documentation. 


9. Develop Alexa-hosted skills in Python

Python developers can now get started quickly with Alexa skills. Alexa-hosted skills now support Python from both the Alexa Developer Console and the ASK CLI. Read the tech docs. 


10. Batch test your skill model with the NLU Evaluation Tool

The NLU Evaluation Tool helps you avoid overtraining your skill’s NLU model by identifying which utterances will improve accuracy if added to your Interaction Model, create and run regression tests on your skill’s NLU model, and measure accuracy of your skill’s NLU model with anonymized frequent live utterances. Read the blog here. Read the tech docs here. 


As always, we can't wait to see what you build. As a reminder, learn how to get the most out of the tech docs by visiting the Latest Tips page.