"Alexa, Thank Smart Home Device Makers for a Great 2019!"

June Lee Dec 18, 2019
Smart Home Skills Connected Devices Smart Home API Smart Home News

We celebrated Alexa’s fifth birthday earlier this year, and want to take a moment to celebrate how much you have delighted customers with the Alexa-compatible products you’ve built. You have now delivered more than 100,000 products from more than 9,500 brands that are compatible with Alexa!

You’ve innovated by delivering features like simple setup, which can make setting up devices as easy as just plugging them in, home Wi-Fi control, which lets customers say things like “Alexa, turn off Wi-Fi to John’s tablet,” brought Alexa to backyard grilling, which lets customers say things like “Alexa, what temperature is my grill set to”, and so much more.

You’ve also added Alexa control to brand new categories of devices, such as the Alexa compatible tree from Mr. Christmas, which raises the holiday spirit to new levels with controls like “Alexa, set my Christmas tree to candy cane,” and the Smart Coffee Maker from Hamilton Beach, which helps get the day started with a simple “Alexa, brew my coffee.”

As a result of your hard work, customers have now connected tens of millions of your smart devices to Alexa, and use Alexa to control them hundreds of millions of times each week. Thank you!

What a Year!

Many of you have already taken advantage of tools we provided in 2019 to make setting up, using, and even developing your devices easier.

Frustration Free Setup

In 2018, we announced the Frustration-Free Setup initiative, aimed at making setting up a smart home absolutely simple. This year, we released simple setup and app-to-app account linking to reduce the number of steps it takes customers to connect your Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth devices to their home network and to Alexa. With simple setup, you can make it possible for customers to connect your devices to their home networks by simply plugging them in. With app-to-app account linking, you can enable customers to link their Alexa account to your account from within your mobile application. TP-Link Kasa, Philips Hue, iRobot, Tuya Smart, IKEA, Sensi and eero are already taking advantage of these experiences, and you can too - when you make setting up your products easier, customers can take advantage of them more quickly, with fewer customer service contacts and fewer returns.

More Natural Control with the Updated Smart Home Skill API

You can use a wide range new smart home features delivered this fall to do more for your customers with Alexa control.

You can use semantic extensions to enable additional voice commands that work with our toggle, mode, and range building block APIs to deliver more natural control with just a few lines of code. You can tell Alexa to map commands like “open”, “close”, “raise,” and “lower” to specific toggle, range, and mode directives for your device. For example, your customer can say “Alexa, open the garage door,” in addition to “Alexa, set the garage door mode to open.” beam Home and Nexx, are using semantic extensions for their garage door openers, and IKEA, Legrand, Lutron, Schellenberg, and Somfy are using them for their shades. You can also now use the building block APIs in nine additional Alexa locales, specifically Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the UK.

You can use the enhanced cooking API to enable control of 40 cooking modes, as well as cooking by time, temperature, and more. Now your customers can say things like, “Alexa, preheat the oven to 350 degrees“ and “Alexa, defrost three pounds of meat in my microwave.” GE Appliance ovens, June Oven, and Traeger Grills are taking advantage of these new cooking capabilities today.

You can use the new networking API to enable customers to use Alexa to control your networking devices. With Alexa control, your customers can use their voices to quickly manage Wi-Fi access and other valuable features in your devices that previously required them to open a mobile app or web browser. For example, your customers can say, “Alexa, turn off Wi-Fi for John’s tablet” when it’s time for dinner, and “Alexa, enable the Internet for Sally’s phone for three hours.” Arris, ASUS, eero, Linksys, and TP-Link are already using the networking API.

You can use new inventory sensors and Alexa integration with the Dash Replenishment Service to let customers know when supplies used by your device are running low, and to set up automatic re-ordering of consumables when they’re needed. As a result, you can increase customer engagement and satisfaction with your devices, and create new monetization opportunities for your business. August Home, Blink, Coway, Ring, Schlage, and Yale use inventory sensors in their products and smart home skills.

Easily Build with the Alexa Connect Kit

You can use the Alexa Connect Kit, now generally available, to connect any device to the Internet and Alexa using an Amazon-managed hardware module, without worrying about managing cloud services, Alexa skills, or complex networking and security firmware. With ACK, you can build smart devices that customers will love - easily, quickly, and economically. The ACK hardware module provides Internet connectivity with simple setup, and lets you use Smart Home Skill API features like setting ranges, modes, and toggles, controlling cooking functions, and reporting inventory levels. ACK’s managed cloud service is built on AWS IoT, and meets the cloud reliability requirements for both Works with Alexa, and Certified for Humans certification. Crock-Pot, Eaton, Hamilton Beach, Leedarson, Midea, Mr. Christmas, Procter & Gamble, Tonly, and Amazon have already delivered products using ACK, and - whether you are a hobbyist or a multi-national corporation - you can order the ACK development kit and start building today.

Alexa Makes It Easy to Connect Your Devices

You can connect your devices to Alexa using a wide variety of the most popular open standards and protocols, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and more. You can connect locally to an Echo device or Echo smart home hub, and you can build a smart home skill to connect from your cloud to Alexa. You can also connect devices to the Internet and Alexa using ACK and an Amazon-managed hardware module. You’ve used all of these options to do amazing things for customers:  you’ve built over 100,000 compatible devices from 9,500 brands; customers have connected tens of millions of your devices to Alexa, and they use Alexa to control them hundreds of millions of times each week. The possibilities for customers are endless, and we’ll continue to support and invest in broadly adopted standards that deliver a great customer experience.

Today, Amazon and the Zigbee Alliance, along with new members Apple and Google and other board members, announced a new working group that plans to draft a connectivity standard for IP-based devices to increase compatibility among smart home products. The working group invites everyone in the industry to bring their existing and new ideas to this nascent effort. Learn more here and join today, and visit our webpage for frequently asked questions.

This fall, we also introduced Amazon Sidewalk, a new effort to make it easy to connect low-bandwidth, low-power, smart lights, sensors, and other low-cost devices that customers install at the edge of their home network. Using the 900 MHz spectrum, we are developing a new protocol we project can increase the connection range of these devices by more than one half mile/one kilometer. With Amazon Sidewalk, customers will be able to place smart devices anywhere on their property and know they’ll work great, even in dead spots where Wi-Fi and Bluetooth don’t reach. For device makers, we plan to publish protocols that any manufacturer can use to build reliable, low-power, low-cost devices that benefit from access to long-range, low-bandwidth wireless connections. You can sign up to be notified when more information is available.

Thank you again for all you do on behalf of customers. We can’t wait to build with you in 2020!