You Can Now Seamlessly Connect Alexa Skills to Mobile Apps
James Huang Jul 22, 2020
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Today, we’re excited to announce Alexa for Apps (preview), which lets you take customers into your iOS and Android mobile apps from your Alexa skill. With Alexa for Apps added to a custom skill, customers who make requests using the Alexa app, Alexa built-in phones, or Alexa mobile accessories such as Echo Buds, can use their voice to interact with mobile apps. Key use cases include using voice to quickly search, view more information, and access any functionality inside your app. Alexa for Apps is easy to implement with any app that can be opened with deep links, and is already being added to experiences for TikTok, Yellow Pages, Uber, Sonic, Zynga, Volley, and others. Request access to our developer preview to start building your voice and app experiences today.

Over the last year, we’ve seen a growing number of customers access Alexa on their mobile devices through the Alexa app, which now allows customers to use Alexa hands-free, as well as through an increasing number of on-the-go devices like Echo Buds, Bose with Alexa built-in headphones, and phones with Alexa built-in like the OnePlus 8. Customers tell us how much they like to get information, play music, and do more through these devices, using only their voices. While voice is great for many on-the-go experiences, Alexa for Apps (preview) allows you to give customers additional information and controls on-screen through your app or website. This powerful combination allows you to give customers immediate information via your voice skill, and steer them to an app when needed to meet a customer need.

Use Alexa for Apps to Help Customers Get to Your Mobile App Quickly

Now customers can use their voice as a shortcut into any activity that can be opened with a deep link in your app. And because Alexa for Apps extends the functionality of custom skills, it can support a wide variety of use cases including:

Search - Alexa for Apps makes searching inside an app quick and easy. For example, customers could previously ask the Twitter skill for trends, mentions, and more, and hear a voice response. Now, when they ask, “Alexa, ask Twitter to search for #Alexalive,” the skill will also open the Twitter app on their mobile device and display a list of results that customers can browse. Similarly, customers can ask the Yellow Pages skill to show them nearby plumbers, gas stations, or restaurants which then display in the Yellow Pages app.

View more information - Alexa for Apps also makes it easy to open your app and give customers additional visual information or more complex options. For example, after a customer books a ride with the Uber skill, Alexa will ask the customer if they want to see the driver’s location on a map in the app. Similarly, have cravings for a burger? Ask SONIC what’s new on the menu, and ask for the nearest location to open the map. Alexa will open the SONIC app to a map of nearby locations.

“SONIC is always on the lookout for new ways that technology can help us serve our millions of devoted fans better, and Alexa’s new deep linking capability was a natural fit for our mobile strategy. Hungry guests make choices quickly. By making it as easy as asking Alexa to find nearby SONIC locations and discover new menu items in our app, we can take friction out of the process” said Kim Davis, VP of Digital Strategies at SONIC Corp.

Access functionality - Finally, with Alexa for Apps, customers can trigger any functionality you select within your app by using their voice. For instance, the Tik Tok skill lets customers start recording with their voice. This is especially useful when a customer’s hands are busy.

“Our app is extremely engaging once you’re watching,” said Sean Kim, Head of Product for TikTok. “Alexa for Apps helped us add fast ways for users to discover, search, and consume content in our app. It also allows our creators to record hands-free just by saying “Alexa, ask TikTok to start my recording!’ This saves our users time and allows the to get even more creative.”

Get Started With Alexa for Apps

Alexa for Apps is free to use, simple to set up, and works across both iOS and Android. Add Alexa for Apps to your custom skill to connect mobile customers to multiple apps. Alexa can even open your website or to an app store if users don’t yet have your app installed. Best of all, you won’t have to change your app if it has content that can already be opened with deep links.

To get started with Alexa for Apps, follow four simple steps:

  1. Request early access
  2. Add app and website metadata to your skill.json manifest file
  3. Edit your skill endpoint to send deep links using skill connection requests
  4. Test and publish your skill

“We believe that voice technology is fundamentally changing the way people search for and find businesses to solve their problems. It’s just easier to ask and get immediate results for a restaurant, gas station or urgent care center that’s closest to you, rather than opening an app and typing. We were able to easily launch our first Alexa skill, using Alexa’s new deep-linking capability, to connect voice searches to results in our Yellow Pages app,” said Arbi Vartanian, Director of Consumer Sites at Thryv.

You can test your skill’s deep-linking capability using phones with Alexa built-in, Alexa-enabled accessories that use the Alexa Mobile Accessories kit such as Echo Buds, or by using Alexa in the Alexa App on iOS or Android phones.

Alexa for Apps is in developer preview. Visit our site to apply for early access and start connecting mobile apps to Alexa skills today! 

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