Announcing Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit features in preview, broader Matter availability, and new developer tools

Marja Koopmans Jan 05, 2023
Smart Home Skills Matter Support Smart Home Amazon CES 2023

After two years, it’s great to finally be back at CES. This year, at the Amazon Experience Area in the Venetian, people can see and experience the possibilities of the ambient smart home powered by Alexa. Our vision for the ambient smart home is one in which technology fades into the background and is present, only when needed. It’s a smart home that just works and can proactively turn the lights on in the living room and adjust the thermostat to a preferred temperature while on the way home from work, or lock the door and turn off the lights after heading to bed for the night. 

Customers want a smart home that works for them as they go about their daily lives. It sounds simple, but there are quite a few things that need to fall into place for that to be a reality. To provide a smart home that customers expect, devices must work together, representing a shift from just merely connecting devices to Alexa to now innovating together with developers by leveraging Alexa's features. This means that we need to make it easier for developers to use our technology to build devices and ambient experiences. We do the hard work behind the scenes, so our shared customers don’t have to think about it. 

Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit features in Developer Preview later this month
Last summer, we announced the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit – a new set of services and features that extend a variety of Alexa capabilities, and with customers’ permission, empowers developers to build a more unified ambient experience together, with Alexa. 

Today, we’re excited to share that the first three features of Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit, the credentials sharing, group sync, and two-way device sync features will be in developer preview this month. These bi-directional cloud-based features are designed to be flexible, allowing developers to maximize their development effort and reach more households and users regardless of their mobile OS or connectivity protocol they use to connect devices to Alexa. 

The credentials sharing feature simplifies the setup of Matter over Thread compatible smart home devices by facilitating the sharing of Thread credentials between Alexa and developer apps. As a result, customers who have opted in don’t have to manually enter credentials while setting up a new Matter over Thread device to Alexa or an existing Thread network. Plus, this feature helps customers maintain a single Thread network in their homes, providing them with a more reliable experience through wider coverage, without needing to find and keep track of multiple segmented Thread networks in their homes.

The feature for group sync enables customers to easily start and manage their smart home without having to manually replicate their groups in multiple apps. With this feature, customers can create new groups, rename existing ones and even add or remove devices in their groups, keeping them in sync across Alexa and their favorite apps. For example, if a customer adds a light in the Living room group and creates a new group called Kitchen with three lights in the developer app. When the customer opts in while enabling the developers’ skill, Alexa will update the new light in the Living room group and create a Alexa Group named Kitchen. The two-way device sync feature will help developers to better service customers based on device status by synchronizing information such as disablement, enablement and deletion between Alexa and their apps with the customer’s permission. Over time, as customers create, edit device groups and device status, Alexa will keep these changes synced between Alexa and developer apps.

As smart homes become populated with devices from many different brands, providing a simple, robust foundation to set up and organize those devices will produce happy and engaged customers long into the future. As we continue to bring more innovations and make Alexa smarter, developers are able to tap into them and invent new features and experiences. To learn more about Alexa Ambient Dev Home Kit, please visit our developer portal or reach out to your Business Development contact to learn more.

Get the most out of Matter with Alexa
Last month, we completed the first phase of our Matter rollout. Today, tens of millions of Alexa customers across the globe have more ways to connect their devices with the availability of Matter over WiFi spanning Plugs, Switches, Bulbs, supported on 17 different Echo devices. Beginning this spring, we'll continue our Matter journey with support for Matter over Thread, iOS setup, and additional device types (thermostats, blinds, and sensors). This will include Matter support on additional Echo and eero devices and Thread border router support on the Echo (4th Gen), making it one of our most versatile devices supporting WiFi, Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh, Matter over WiFi, and Matter over Thread starting this spring. This multi-protocol support on Echo devices enables customers to mix and match devices with a unified experience, and tap into the latest innovations without having to consider connectivity protocols or invest in additional equipment. 

By bringing Matter support to more than 100 million Echo devices already in customer homes, we’ll help remove adoption barriers and make it easier for more customers to buy and use Matter devices. Developers can continue to support devices in market across protocols and build Alexa’s differentiating features for their Matter devices, delivering simple and reliable experiences with Alexa.

Matter helps to move us closer towards our goal for Alexa to be compatible with all smart home devices. Developers such as Eve, Leedarson, Leviton, Midea, Nanoleaf, Meross, Resideo, Sengled, Tuya, Yeelight and Wiz are already building Alexa’s differentiated features into their Matter devices in order to deliver unique and reliable experiences for tens of millions of existing Alexa customers. You can check out these devices and much more at the Amazon Experience Area at this year’s CES. 

Jumpstart Frustration-Free Setup for Matter devices with pre-certified components 
Just as developers continue to invest in Alexa, we’re investing in new tools to help them to build more efficiently and deliver differentiated and high-quality ambient experiences for customers. Last year, we announced our collaboration with silicon providers, including Beken, Espressif, Nordic, NXP, Realtek, Silicon Labs, and Texas Instruments, to natively support key features like Frustration-Free Setup. This means developers will be able to use pre-configured and pre-certified components (SoCs) from these partners to build Matter devices with Frustration-Free Setup support, reducing certification testing efforts by up to 63%. The first pre-certified solution from Espressif (ESP32-C3) is available today to start development work for Frustration-Free Setup for Matter over WiFi devices. 

Frustration-Free Setup’s developer portal is where developers can access instructions, technical documentation, software, and data specifications. Here developers can begin the implementation of Frustration-Free Setup for Matter devices and follow instructions for Simplified certification when using a pre-certified solution. This simplified process takes advantage of a more efficient test plan and eliminates the administrative burden to ship test devices as well as transit and processing time. 

Gain insights into Matter devices with the new Matter Analytics Console
We’re happy to share our latest tool, the Matter Analytics Console, which provides valuable insights via performance metrics such as latency and success rate to help developers deliver high-quality experiences to customers. These metrics are indications of the quality of service customers experience when interacting with their devices using Alexa. The Matter Analytics Console provides developers an overview of aggregated data which can be viewed in different time intervals up to 90 days in the past and with granularity between five minutes and one week. These insights can help developers identify and react to issues and verify that they have been resolved. The Matter Analytics Console is available now for developer preview. Please reach out to your business development contact for more details.

Build with Alexa today 
We have come a long way together - customers have connected more than 300 million smart home devices to Alexa and more than 30% of smart home interactions are initiated by Alexa - without customers saying anything. These latest announcements on Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit, Matter, and new developers tools get us a few steps closer to our ambient smart home vision. We look forward to continuing our journey to raise the bar and deliver experiences that customers love while helping developers build successful businesses. To learn more about these new features and services, you can visit our new Smart Home Insider portal, or reach out to your Business Development contact for more details. We can’t wait to see what you build this year and beyond.

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