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Alexa Blogs

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April 07, 2017

Michael Palermo

Tunable_Lighting_control.png

We are happy to announce tunable lighting control, a new feature in the Smart Home Skill API now available in the US with support for the UK and Germany coming soon. This is great news for those of you targeting color-changing lights or tunable white lights.

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April 06, 2017

Glenn Cameron

To celebrate its first anniversary, Echosim.io is releasing a new developer console in Echosim.io to make skill testing even easier. The console exposes the incoming and outgoing JSON messages between Echosim.io and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS).
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April 06, 2017

Martha Kang

Sixteen-year-old Austin Wilson loves building things. He enjoys figuring out how things are put together then finding ways to improve on them.

When Austin’s uncle noticed the teen’s knack for problem solving, he urged Austin to learn to code. That was five years ago, and the high school junior from Rocky River, Ohio has learned a number of programming languages since.

Last summer, Austin interned at a software company where he added C# and ASP.NET to the list. As his next step, he wanted to add artificial intelligence to his Raspberry Pi (RPi). A Google search led Austin to Hackster’s Internet of Voice Challenge (IoV) with Raspberry Pi where he discovered Alexa.

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April 06, 2017

Bertrand Vacherot

We are happy to announce the Hack Your World with Amazon Alexa contest for university students. This is our second collaboration with MindSumo, a company that focuses on offering students first-hand experience with industry projects. 

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April 06, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

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We’re excited to announce a new beginner course by Treehouse. The “Build an Alexa Skill” course will help guide both developers and non-developers alike through the skill-building process.

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April 05, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Have you ever wondered how your skill usage is trending month over month? How many unique customers you have? When your peak times are?

You can now explore the answers to these and other data-driven questions using our new skil metrics dashboard. 

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April 05, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

New Device Address API and Metrics Dashboard

We are excited to announce two new features that will help you build skills that are even more engaging. Incorporate location information into your interactions using the new Device Address API. And gain deeper insights into your skill’s usage with the new metrics dashboard.

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March 30, 2017

Bertrand Vacherot

When the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) launched in late 2015, developers began building engaging experiences for voice, ranging from simple to innovative. Today, an interdisciplinary team of students from Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) is pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve. Meet Audrey Higgins (writer), Mohammed Tauseef (AWS and Unity integration), Na-Yeon Kim (2D/3D artist), Longyi Cheng (Unity Gameplay programmer), and Shuang You (3D artist).

Their class assignment: build a prototype, in two weeks, of a fully immersive virtual world. Specifically, the team created A.L.Ex.A. (The Assistant Linked Extemporization Array), a VR experience that follows a talkative repair drone destined to help users (or “guests” as they’re known in the VR world) stranded on remote system Planet 532.

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March 30, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

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By Sam Morgan, Head of Education at Makers Academy

Editor’s note: This is part two of our Makers Academy series for Ruby developers. Learn more about this free training on the Alexa Skills Kit and read the first module.

Welcome to the second post in our series designed to take you from zero to hero using Alexa with Ruby. In our first module, we:

  • Set up a simple Alexa skill
  • Set up a tunneled Sinatra application
  • Hooked the two together to say "Hello, world"

In this module, we'll handle variable data from users using slots. This module introduces:

  • Slots
  • Custom slot types

This module uses:

  • Sinatra
  • Ruby's JSON library
  • Ruby's HTTP library
  • The Numbers API

We’re going to build a fact-checking mechanism so users can ask for facts about particular numbers. Here are some things users will be able to ask Alexa:

Alexa, ask Number Facts to tell me a trivia fact about 42.

Alexa, ask Number Facts to tell me a math fact about 5.

Users will be able to choose:

 

  • a number (any number!)
  • a fact type 

Alexa will respond with an interesting fact about that number that is specific to that type of fact.

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March 28, 2017

Dean Bryen

Today, we are happy to announce Alexa developers can now add skills to the Flash Briefing on Alexa in UK English and German using the Flash Briefing Skill API, a new addition to the Alexa Skills Kit.Flash_briefing_UK_DE_blog.png

With the Flash Briefing Skill API, you no longer need to build a voice interaction model to handle customer requests for the news. When you configure your compatible RSS feed and build skills that connect directly to Flash Briefing, customers will be able to easily access your content via the Alexa Flash Briefing, which delivers pre-recorded audio clips and text-to-speech (TTS) updates.

The availability of Flash Briefing skills in local languages means that you can now deliver truly localized content to customers via voice. Here are a few ideas to get started with Flash Briefing skills:

  • Create a skill with news from any provider that authorizes you to use their content, and provides a public API.
  • If you’re a blogger you can configure your RSS feed to build a skill for your readers.
  • Podcast host? Simply host the audio for your podcast and provide a JSON feed to allow your listeners to hear your latest episode as they get ready for the day.
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March 27, 2017

David Isbitski

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We recently announced a new program that makes it free to build and host most Alexa skills using Amazon Web Services (AWS). The program aims to help you build engaging skills by giving you access to more AWS infrastructure beyond the AWS Free Tier. Here are five ideas for using AWS services to unlock your skill's potential.

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March 23, 2017

Marion Desmazieres

Makers-training_blog-01.png

By Sam Morgan, Head of Education at Makers Academy

Editor’s note: This is part one of our Makers Academy series for Ruby developers. Learn more about this free training on the Alexa Skills Kit in this blog post

Welcome to the first module of Makers Academy's short course on building Alexa skills using Ruby. Amazon's Alexa Skills Kit allows developers to extend existing applications with deep voice integration and construct entirely new applications that leverage the cutting-edge voice-controlled technology.

This course will cover all the terminology and techniques required to get fully-functional skills pushed live to owners of Alexa-enabled devices all around the world using Ruby and Sinatra.

What's in This Module?

This module contains a basic introduction to scaffolding a skill and interacting with Alexa. This module introduces:

 

  • Intent schemas
  • Utterances
  • Alexa communication paradigm
  • Tunneling a local application using ngrok over HTTPS
  • Connecting Alexa to a local development environment
  • Alexa-style JSON requests and responses 

During this module, you will construct a simple skill called “Hello World.” While building this skill, you will come to understand how the above concepts work and play together. This module uses:

 

  • Sinatra
  • Ruby's JSON library

 

 

Let's get started! 

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March 22, 2017

Ted Karczewski

It’s here. Huawei released an over-the-air (OTA) update today bringing hands-free Amazon Alexa capabilities to Mate 9 smartphones in the US. New Mate 9 smartphones will ship with the Huawei Alexa application pre-installed, making it the first Android smartphone to have the cloud-based voice service as a native, out-of-the-box feature.

Huawei introduced its flagship Mate 9 device in the US at CES 2017. The Mate 9 was built smart, with a machine learning algorithm designed to improve device performance over time. Now, Mate 9 is even smarter thanks to the Alexa Voice Service (AVS).

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March 17, 2017

Jeff Blankenburg

Quiz_Tutorial_ASK.png

We all hold interesting data in our heads. Maybe it's a list of all the action figures we played with as a kid, specific details about the 50 U.S. states, or a historical list of the starting quarterbacks for our favorite football team. When we're with friends, sometimes we'll even quiz each other on these nuanced categories of information. It's a fun, interactive way to share our knowledge and learn more about our favorite topics. 

You can now bring that experience to Alexa using our new quiz skill template. You provide the data and the number of properties in that data, and Alexa will dynamically build a quiz game for you.

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March 16, 2017

Aaron Tang

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The Alexa skills catalog is home to more than 10,000 skills thanks to our amazing developer community. As most you know, every Alexa skill submitted to Amazon undergoes a certification process prior to being published in our public catalog.

To help you navigate the certification process, let me share its main purpose and requirements, the top issues we're seeing, and some helpful reference material. 

All certified skills meet our requirements for policy, security, functionality, and voice interface and user experience. These certification requirements help us maintain a high quality bar for our catalog. It also ensures that the third-party skills our customers consume on Alexa-enabled devices are safe and work well.

These certification requirements are specified in our technical documentation and certification checklist. We encourage you to save this link and reference it often as you develop your skills and prepare to submit them to Amazon. Doing this should...

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