Go Multimodal! Streamline Your Multimodal Skill Building Experience with APL 1.9

Kumudini Manda Dec 09, 2021

Did you know that on average, APL-based multimodal skills see more than 3x the amount of monthly active users compared to voice-only skills on the multimodal devices?

Today, we are excited to announce improvements to Alexa Presentation Language (APL) that make it easier to build delightful experiences that render beautifully across a broad range of Alexa devices that customers enjoy using. Get Building!

A More Seamless Experience in the Developer Console

Say goodbye to the many tabs and windows you had to deal with when creating a multimodal experience. The Multimodal Responses tab in the developer console opens the visual and audio authoring experience in the same window instead of launching a new tab. You can now see a Resources menu that guides you to step by step directions to create multimodal skill responses that work across a broad range of device viewport profiles right inside the APL authoring tool. We have improved the tooltips to make navigation within the authoring tool easier. While authoring APL documents, you can now switch between the ‘Code View’ and ‘GUI View’ tabs for easy code navigation within your APL document. The GUI view additionally comes with an option to add or delete a component in your document on click of a button. 

Multimodal Responses
Visual and Audio Authoring in Multimodal Responses Tab
Multimodal Responses
Resources to Create a Multimodal Skill Response
Multimodal Responses
Switch between 'Code View' and 'GUI view'
Watch Your Graphics Come Alive on Alexa

You can now use the APL authoring tool to convert Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) files - a file format of choice among web designers for responsive design - into Alexa Vector Graphics (AVG). You can then use the resulting AVG in your multimodal skill responses. You can also insert Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) into your existing APL document. You can do this by first inserting a placeholder for Vector Graphic component at a desired location in your APL document and importing the SVG. You can additionally iterate on the converted AVG in the Authoring tool by navigating to the GRAPHICS option on the toolbarSee here for more details on importing an SVG and the complete list of supported SVG features for conversion on Authoring Tool. 

Multimodal Responses
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) to APL Conversion on APL Authoring Tool
Get Moving with Enhanced Animation Support

We heard you! The Lottie to APL converter now supports additional Lottie features like precomps, dashes, trim paths and mattes for conversion. Many of you reached out and asked for these additional features. We will continue to add more, so please reach out and tell us what other Lottie features you need. 

Automatic Tablet Support

Your experiences built with responsive components and templates will now automatically work for mobile viewport profiles used by tablets. To enable support, make sure you turn on the mobile viewport profiles in the developer console’s Interfaces → APL tab and update your APL documents to import the latest Alexa packages (alexa-layouts, alexa-styles, alexa-viewport-profiles) for access to enhanced components, templates, styles and resources. 

Help Us Build Better for You!

Please take a moment to take our developer survey. Your participation is greatly appreciated. Learn more about all the new features, general updates to APL and more in our technical documentation and tune into the Alexa Community Slack to ask questions, meet other multimodal developers, and share what you build! We look forward to seeing what you build! If you need help, come find me on Alexa Community Slack or my team at @aruntalkstech@austinvach and @smrudula.

A Year of Multimodal Innovation

In 2021, you created rich, new multimodal APL experiences supported on an ever-expanding list of devices including Echos, FireTVs, select TVs from LG, Samsung, and Panasonic, Facebook Portal, and more. We started the year with Alexa champion Alexander Martin launching the wonderful https://apl.ninja which so many of you embraced to create and share APL documents with each other. In April, APL 1.6 came out with all things motion with support for importing Lottie animations, support for choreographed motion on the Echo Show 10, entity sensing APIs on the Echo Show 10 and later the new Echo Show 8, and custom transitions for the Pager component. In July, we announced APL 1.7 at Alexa Live 2022 and made APL for Audio (APLA) generally available so everyone can use high quality audio and reprompts with layered/mixed audio. Our partners Red BullwanderlustBig Sky, and Art Museum built delightful experiences with the APL for Audio APIs this year. We also introduced inline text styling and right-to-left (RTL) language support for Arabic which launched for customers recently. We announced the brand new Echo Show 15 in September and published a comprehensive guide to adapt your engaging experiences for the device. A lot of you took advantage of the guide, especially to add portrait support and already have your skills in certification or published. Thank you!

Echo Show 15 also lets you showcase the most interesting parts of your skill with Widgets - glanceable, self-updating, and interactive APL documents displayed on the home screen of the Echo Show 15. Widgets are still in developer preview but you can sign up for access by filling out our survey. Finally, we retired Display Templates to make way for APL templates that work on more Alexa devices including ones built by our partners like LG, Samsung, and Facebook. APL templates also offer additional customizability and functionality not available with Display Templates. If you’re still waiting to migrate we have an extensive migration guide to help you through your journey. We appreciate many of you who have already made the transition. Ring in the new year with new multimodal experiences! 

Let’s Get Moving! Create Rich Customer Experiences Using New Motion Features Available in APL 1.6.
Every New APL Feature Announced at Alexa Live
Optimizing Your Multimodal Experiences on the New Echo Show 15