Here you can learn common terms used throughout the Alexa Auto guidelines.



Alexa app: The companion app for Alexa users to set up devices, change settings, and see the displayed output from interactions with Alexa.

Alexa service / Alexa: The cloud-based voice service that powers devices such as the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and third party devices.

Alexa skill: See skill.

Alexa skills kit (ASK): A collection of APIs, tools, and documentation for giving Alexa new capabilities. See Getting Started with the Alexa Skills Kit.

Alexa Built-in device: A device that provides access to Alexa. Examples include Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, and devices that use the Alexa Voice Service.

Alexa Voice Service (AVS): Amazon’s intelligent cloud service that allows a developer to voice-enable any connected product with a microphone and speaker with a limited set of Alexa features.

Attribution: On screen, the logo or wordmark; in voice, giving credit to where the content is from (ex: Playing Discover Weekly from Spotify).


Center stack: The center screen that the driver primarily interacts with, via touch screen, hard buttons, knobs or touch pads.

Cluster (electronic instrument cluster): the screen behind the steering wheel that has a digital readout, which includes the speedometer and vehicle indicators.

Cognitive load: The total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory - how difficult it is for a user to understand and/or parse the information being presented to them.

Connect or Connected: The automatic action of a live link being established between the vehicle and a paired phone for the purpose of calling and messaging. Connection usually happens each time a customer gets in the vehicle with their phone.


Dialog: An interaction between the user and Alexa. This could be a single turn (the user speaks to Alexa and Alexa responds), or multi-turn (the user speaks to Alexa, Alexa responds, the user speaks to Alexa again, Alexa responds again, etc.).

Dialog errors: When something unexpected happened in the conversation between Alexa and the user. Types of dialog errors:

Low confidence errors: This occurs when Alexa has low confidence, is not fully understanding, and cannot proceed in the interaction without asking the question again or ending the interaction.

Timeouts/Silence/No input: When the user does not respond to a question Alexa asked. A re-prompt is usually played to encourage the user to respond.

False accept: This occurs when Alexa has mid- to high confidence of correctly understanding what the user said, but has actually misunderstood.

Disambiguation: Disambiguating is a method of removing uncertainty of meaning from an ambiguous utterance.

User: "Alexa, cancel my alarm."

Alexa: "Which alarm do you want to cancel: 7am, 8am, or 10am?"
User: "7am."
Alexa: "7am alarm cancelled."

Domains: Alexa Domains represent the broad knowledge and functional areas that Alexa implements, defined the way customers view the system. Prototypical examples of Alexa Domains are Music, Shopping, and Household Organization.


Earcon: An audible icon, or sound, that is brief and distinctive, and used to represent a specific event or convey other information.

Example phrase: A phrase showing users what they need to say to begin using an Alexa skill.


Hands-free listening: The customer-facing term to turn on and off Alexa responding to the wake word. See Wake word.

Headless: Refers to voice-only devices instead of those with a screen.

Hint: A text string that represents an action or utterance that a customer can say while engaging with your skill.

HMI (Human Machine Interface): The user interface and user experience in the vehicle. The HMI encompasses the screen layouts, visuals, animations, and control elements which all together impact how a user interacts with the system.


GUI: Graphical user interface.


Intent: The objective of the user's utterance.

Interruptions: When the interaction between Alexa and the user is interrupted by another event. Examples of interruptions are alarms and timers going off while the user is talking to Alexa.

Invocation: “The act of beginning an interaction with a particular Alexa ability. There are three ways to invoke Alexa in a vehicle: a voice-only wake word, Push-to-talk (PTT) button on the steering wheel, and a tap-to-talk (TTT) button on the screen. For recommendations around designing interactions that handle different types of invocation, see Invoking Alexa.

IVI: In-vehicle infotainment. This is the system that provides information and entertainment in the vehicle.


Multimodal: Describes an interface which has at least a voice and screen-based experience. Each input changes the way a customer can interact with the experience, but the two should work together fluidly.


Notification: A notification is generated anytime Alexa needs to proactively deliver information (VUI/GUI), without having been asked to do so by the user immediately. In this regard, a notification is different from an Alexa response, which is delivered when the user explicitly asked Alexa to provide information at that moment in time.


Over-the-Air (OTA) update: An update to a customer device's software sent wirelessly to the device over the network. This is about pushing new firmware "over-the-air" to Alexa Built-in devices.


Pair or Paired: The manual action taken by the customer to teach the vehicle and phone to connect to each other, usually done by navigating to the Bluetooth settings menus on each device while parked. Customers typically only do this once per phone, and the vehicle will remember that phone until the customer manually cancels the pairing (forget device). A paired phone may or may not be connected at a given time.

Prompt: A TTS response, which may or may not be accompanied by an earcon, which provides information or acknowledgement of the user's utterance, or asks the user for additional information.

Privacy mode: Also known as mics/camera off mode; when the microphones and camera(s) on a device are turned off, usually by pressing the mute/privacy button on the device.

Push-to-talk (PTT): Invoking Alexa with either a button on the steering wheel or on the screen.


Re-prompt: a special kind of prompt used by Alexa when a response is not heard or clearly understandable. See also Prompt.


Skill: A capability or ability of Alexa. Alexa provides a set of built-in skills (such as playing music), and developers can use the Alexa Skills Kit to give Alexa new skills. A skill includes both the code (in the form of a cloud-based service) and the configuration provided on the developer portal.

Styles: Device-level visual attributes and assets which control the look and feel of the Alexa experience on that device. All components, layouts, and patterns inherit these values. Styles are delivered within themes and devices can expose multiple themes such as day and night mode.

System errors: when something unexpected happened, unrelated to the dialog between the user and Alexa. Example: The call for a data service used to get the information the user requested failed to send Alexa that information.


Tap-to-talk (TTT): The digital touch-interface button that invokes Alexa.

Text-to-Speech (TTS): Converting a string of text to synthesized speech (Alexa’s voice).

Turn: A conversational turn is a single request to or response from Alexa. Sometimes shorthand for only the request side of a conversation, so “Alexa, Open Horoscope”, “What horoscope sign would you like?”, “Pisces”, “Today’s horoscope for Pisces is …” might be referred to as a two-turn interaction, rather than the 4 turns that it technically contained. ``


User Interface (UI): The means in the vehicle which enable the user to interact with the system such as screens, hard buttons, and dials.

Utterance: The words the user says to Alexa to convey what they want to do, or to provide a response to a question Alexa asks.


Voice Chrome: A visual indicator on devices with a screen to show the various states, such as listening, thinking, and responding, similar to how the LED ring would on an Echo.

Voice-forward: A voice-optimized multimodal concept where the GUI is optimized for voice and voice is the primary interaction model.

Voice Interface or Voice User Interface (VUI): A way for humans to interact with computers using voice communication.


Wake word: A command the user says to tell Alexa when they want to talk. For Example: “Alexa, what's the weather?” Here, “Alexa” is the wake word. Alexa users can select from a defined set of wake words. See hands-free listening.

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Last updated: Nov 25, 2023