AVS Frequently Asked Questions

These questions give answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) and its related SDKs and extensions.

General

Q: How do I get started with AVS?
Start by reading Getting Started with AVS, which details how to call the AVS cloud API from your device.
Q: What components does my product have to have integrate with AVS?
Add AVS to any device with a microphone, a speaker, and an internet connection. Learn more about supported implementations with Audio Hardware Configurations.
Q: What do users access Alexa for?
Alexa includes access to information, music, audiobooks, news, weather, traffic, and more, including any custom skill that you create using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). Today, your customers can:
  • Ask their device all kinds of questions, like math problems or facts about famous people, dates, and places
  • Stay informed on the news with the Flash Briefing customizable news feed that includes podcasts and headlines from sources like ABC News, Good Morning America, Fox Sports, and more.
  • Play and buy music by artist, song, album, or genre from Amazon Music
  • Explore Prime Music, which provides unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs, hundreds of playlists and personalized stations – free with Amazon Prime
  • Enjoy podcasts, music, and live radio from iHeartRadio
  • Listen to their favorite podcasts and live radio stations from TuneIn
  • Listen to audiobooks from Audible using their Audible or Kindle Unlimited subscription
  • Add items to their To-Do and Shopping lists
  • Get traffic updates for their daily commute
  • Check the weather in their home town or in other locations around the world
  • Access millions of Wikipedia articles
  • Check appointments or weekend plans in Google Calendar
  • Listen to jokes
  • Play Simon Says
  • Hunt for fun Easter Eggs, like "Alexa, I am your father"
  • Set voice triggers for recipes created in If This Then That (IFTTT)
  • Access new capabilities that you and other developers create using the Alexa Skills Kit
  • Use the free Alexa companion app to manage music, shopping lists, To-Do lists and more.
  • Set timers and alarms.
  • Control volume, media playback, and manage timers and alarms using the Amazon Alexa app.
  • Get the latest scores and schedules for your favorite sports teams.

Marketing for AVS products

Alexa Built-in

Q: What's the Alexa Built-in badging program?
The Alexa Built-in allows qualified products to carry the Alexa Built-in badge on Amazon detail pages, increasing customer confidence in your product and driving higher conversion. Badged products also receive increased visibility within Amazon search results and in Amazon's Alexa Built-in Storefront, benefitting from ongoing programs designed to increase Storefront traffic. Alexa Built-in products are eligible for co-marketing opportunities, such as onsite merchandising, email campaigns, and prominent online storefront positioning. Alexa Built-in badging is also available for inclusion in your product packaging. See the Alexa Built-in product page for more information.
Q: How do I get the Alexa Built-in badge for my product?
To receive an Alexa Built-in badge for your product, complete the security and testing requirements, and submit your product for certification by Amazon. Certification for Alexa Built-in products consists of four tests: Functional, UX evaluation, Music, and Acoustic. If your product meets all testing requirements, it becomes eligible for Alexa Built-in badging. See Alexa Built-in requirements.
Q: How do I launch an Alexa Built-in product with AVS?
Submit your Alexa Built-in device to Amazon for review and certification of media services before commercial distribution. See the Product Testing overview for more information.

Certification

Q: What's the certification process for AVS, and where do I find testing guidelines?
The certification process allows eligible products to use Alexa Built-in badging in their branding and marketing. Certification for Alexa Built-in products consists of four tests: Functional, UX evaluation, Music, and Acoustic. If your product meets all testing requirements, it becomes eligible for Alexa Built-in badging. See the Product Testing Overview page for more information.

AVS SDKs and Extensions

AVS Device SDK

Q: What services and functionalities are available to developers with the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) Device SDK?
The AVS Device SDK provides a C++ (11 or later) interface for the AVS that allows developers to add intelligent voice control to connected products. The SDK is modular and abstracted, providing components to handle discrete functionality such as speech capture, audio processing, and communications. Each SDK component exposes customizable APIs for your AVS integration. The SDK also includes a sample app, which demonstrates interactions with AVS. For more information, view the AVS Device SDK documentation.
Q: Who should use the AVS Device SDK?
The AVS Device SDK is available to all commercial device makers looking to integrate Alexa into their connected products. The SDK is available for Raspberry Pi, macOS, Ubuntu Linux 16.04 LTS, Windows 64-bit, Android, and iOS.
Q: How do developers get updates to the AVS Device SDK?
Amazon publishes updates to the AVS Device SDK to the AVS developer portal and GitHub. Developers registered with the AVS developer portal receive email updates about the SDK. The AVS Device SDK includes release notes with detailed information on new features and bug fixes and the best way to incorporate them into AVS products or projects.
Q: Am I required to use the entire AVS Device SDK to develop device software?
No, you aren't required to use the entire SDK to develop device software. Use the AVS Device SDK either in its entirety or just use the modules that you need for your product.
Q: Does the AVS Device SDK include support for third-party wake word engines, such as Sensory?
Yes. The AVS Device SDK provides the necessary abstractions to make it easy to use any licensed wake word engine, including Sensory.
Q: Does the AVS Device SDK include support for third-party audio front ends, such as Conexant and Sensory?
Yes. The AVS Device SDK provides the necessary abstractions to make it easy to use any Audio Front End, including the ones from Conexant and Sensory.
Q: What are the targeted Linux and C++ frameworks for the AVS Device SDK? How portable is the SDK?
The AVS Device SDK uses C++ 11 and supports all generic Linux distributions. The SDK’s use of C++ 11 is the primary enabler for portability to different platforms, and the SDK also provides an abstracted transport layer to ease the porting to different libraries. The Capability Agent API abstracts the platform-specific code from the SDK. All modules have documented APIs which ease the replacement of these components with custom implementations.

Alexa Connect Kit (ACK)

Q: What's the Alexa Connect Kit, and how do I get it?
The Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) enables device makers to connect devices to Alexa without worrying about managing cloud services, writing an Alexa skill, or developing complex networking and security firmware. See the Alexa Connect Kit product page for more information.

Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit (AMA)

Q: What's the Alexa Mobile Accessory (AMA) kit, and how do I get it?
The AMA Kit allows any Bluetooth-capable device manufacturer to enable Alexa via a Bluetooth connection through the Alexa mobile app. For more information, see the AMA overview.

AVS feature implementation

Alexa Flash Briefings

Q: How are Alexa Flash Briefings sent?
Alexa sends Flash Briefings through a SpeechSynthesizer.Speak directive and then plays the audio content via AudioPlayer.Play directives.
Q: Alexa says, "Here is your Flash Briefing from ," but the audio content doesn't play. Why?
The cause of missing audio content depends on the circumstances:
  • If you're missing audio content from the Alexa mobile app, go to your alexa.amazon.com account, and make sure to have at least one active news source within Settings > Flash Briefing.
  • If you're missing audio content from your custom AVS implementation, your implementation of AudioPlayer.Play might not be correct. See the AudioPlayer overview or AudioPlayer API reference for more information.
  • Another possibility is that you're incorrectly parsing the data from the multipart stream.
  • Check whether you're sending SpeechStarted and SpeechFinished events.

Cloud-based wake word verification

Q: What's a "false wake"?
A false wake is any utterance that unintentionally wakes an AVS product.
Q: What do customers experience after my product implements Cloud-Based Wake Word Verification?
Customers see the device initially light up, per the Alexa UX Design Guidelines. In the event of a false wake, the StopCapture directive instructs the device to close the audio stream and turn off the blue indicator light.

Code-based linking

Q: I'm having an issue with code-based linking. Where do I find more information?
See the Code Based Linking guide for information.

HTTP

Q: Which HTTP protocol connection does AVS support?
AVS exposes an HTTP/2 endpoint and supports cloud-initiated directives, which allow you to access Alexa capabilities, such as timers and alarms, media transport controls, voice-controlled volume settings, and Amazon Alexa app integration. See Manage an HTTP/2 Connection with AVS for more information.

Display cards

Q: Am I required to render all received JSON data ? 
You must render all JSON data in line with the UX Design Guidelines and templates to create a consistent user experience across all Alexa products.
Q: Am I required to render every supported Display Card on my AVS product?
Amazon encourages screen-based AVS products to render all available Display Cards, but you're not required to do so.
Q: What's the benefit of implementing Display Cards if my product doesn’t support music?
Even if your product doesn’t support music, there are other Display Card options for screen-based AVS products like to-do list, shopping list, calendar, Q&A and weather. These cards enhance the Alexa experience of your product and add more context to the responses.
Q: What are the screen types supported by Display Cards?
The UX Design Guidelines and templates for TVs and tablets list supported screen types. These two screen types support a wide range of use-cases for different screen sizes and user interactions.
Q: If I build Display Cards and render them on my AVS product, do they appear in the Amazon Alexa app?
The Display Cards that you build for your AVS product don't appear in the Alexa app, but the Alexa app renders similar data in a visual card optimized for the Alexa app.
Q: Are updates to the API, template, or JSON payload be backwards compatible?
The API itself is versioned, and any template, JSON payload, or data updates are backwards compatible. Amazon periodically updates Display Cards for Alexa to support new domains, card templates, and other data. When AVS makes updates, Amazon communicates changes to you through appropriate channels. While Amazon encourages you to take advantage of new capabilities, you're not necessarily required to make changes to your device software as Amazon makes updates.

SpeechRecognizer

Q: What my client sends a SpeechRecognizer.Recognize event, an HTTP/2 500 status response with the error "…Error reading entity from input stream…" Why?
To troubleshoot, check the following:
  • Make sure that there aren't any non-UTF-8 characters in your HTTP request.
  • Make sure that the SynchronizeState event and the Recognize event contexts have all client component states.

See the Recognize reference or the Error reading entity Forum issue for more information.

Server-initiated messages

Q: What server-initiated messages does AVS to clients?
The AVS server sends some directives from the Alerts namespace and interactions from the Alexa app to AVS clients.

SSL configuration

Q: I'm having an issue with my SSL configuration file. Is there a reference available?
See here for a reference ssl.cnf file, replacing country, state, locality with your respective info.

SiriusXM

Q: What audio format is my device required to support to enable SiriusXM?
To enable SiriusXM, your product must support the following audio format:
  • Streaming Format: HLS
  • Container: ADTS
  • Playlist extension: m3u8
  • Codec Format: AAC LC, HE-AAC
  • Bit Rates: 256Kbps (AAC LC), 23/64/96Kbps (HE-AAC)
Q: My Alexa Built-in product already passed music certification. Am I required to re-certify my product to support SiriusXM?
Yes, you must submit your device for certification to SiriusXM. Contact your Amazon representative for certification support or submit a request for certification here.

Smart Home

Q: Which Smart Home devices does AVS support?
For a list of supported Smart Home products, see Alexa Smart Home. For more details about building your own skill, see Smart Home Skill API.
Q: Does AVS support a Alexa Built-in device discovering and controlling an IoT device, such as a Smart Home lightbulb?
No. AVS supports cloud-based discovery. A custom Alexa Built-in device can discover devices via cloud-based discovery, but Smart Home device control doesn't work without an Echo device.

If you discover the Smart Home device using an Echo, you can control it using AVS. For more information, see Connect Smart Home Devices to Alexa or Forum Issue 45662.

Web and mobile integration

Q: How do I integrate AVS into websites and mobile applications?
See the AVS API overview for the AVS capabilities and requirements. Consider leveraging the AVS Device SDK as a reference implementation.

International

Q: Do AVS features vary by region?
Yes. AVS offers language and region-specific services to developers. See a high-level feature matrix on the AVS for International page.
Q: Is sample code available that demonstrates support for localization?
Yes, the AVS Device SDK includes support for localization. Locale is configurable in the Sample App through the AlexaClientSDKConfig.json file.
Q: Do the code changes retrieve and replace the AVS endpoint, or more changes involved?
Besides updating endpoints, if you want to allow the user to change their language, support the new SettingsUpdated event. See Preparing for Internationalization.
Q: What happens when a user travels to an unsupported region with an AVS device registered in the UK, Germany, India, Japan, or US?
If a user registered their product in a supported country or region, the device will work in unsupported regions. However, the device will only be able to access localized content from the location where the user registered the device.
Q: Are languages restricted by endpoint?
No. US English, UK English, and German are available on both US and EU AVS endpoints.
Q: Are users located outside of supported locales permitted to use the service?
No, make sure to implement logic enforce supported locale restrictions. Further, the Amazon Alexa mobile app is unavailable in unsupported regions.
Q: What are the approved territories that I can use Alexa in?
Alexa can only be made available in the territories mentioned in the Approved Territories section of this page. While developers are free to distribute their devices globally, they must ensure that Alexa is only made available and marketed for sale in an Approved Territory.

Resources