Alexa Live: here are the new features for developers

Amazon’s voice assistance, Alexa, will continue to evolve thanks to the tools made available to developers who can then integrate smart features into their products

Device developers and manufacturers have always played a central role in the evolution of Alexa and will play a strategic role in the future of the Amazon family of devices and services. In fact, the products of Amazon partners support and make consumers’ homes smarter and safer, allowing them to stay in constant contact with loved ones and have fun with their favorite programs, always staying informed, both at home and on the go. Globally, they are today over 900,000 Alexa developers, who have achieved more than 130,000 skills and hundreds of Alexa Built-in products for different categories, such as PCs, wearables and smart home devices, cars, and beyond 140,000 products that can be controlled and managed via Alexa for the smart home.

Alexa Live: all the news for developers

Alexa Live, the third edition of the annual conference dedicated to developers, device manufacturers, startups and entrepreneurs, aims to be a free day of virtual learning, inspiration and networking, to celebrate the innovation and success of all those who are committed to building the future of ambient computing. Amazon’s mission is to make Alexa a proactive and reliable personal assistant, wherever customers are, leaving them free to do more tasks quickly and efficiently, while at the same time thinking less about technology. To ensure these goals are met, there is still a lot of work to be done, collaborating side by side with the developers. It is in fact in the Amazon’s DNA supporting dreamers and developers, providing them with the tools necessary to achieve their goals. On the occasion of the Alexa Live event, Amazon introduces numerous features and tools for developers, which will facilitate the discovery phase, growth and user engagement. Here are some of the innovations introduced by Amazon for the Italian community, now composed of 54,000 members:

  • WIDGET APL: APL Widgets, available in the Developer Preview, allow users to interact with content from their device’s home screen, including instant, customizable views supported by automatic skill content updates. With widgets, interactive experiences are available to users before they even activate the skill. For example, a user can check an item from a list or click a widget to be taken directly to the most recent content the skill has to offer. You can use APL documents to create widgets, just like with multimodal skill responses.

Alexa Live: here are the new features for developers

New monetization opportunities to drive growth

  • ALEXA SHOPPING ACTION: Alexa Shopping Actions (such as “Add to Cart” or “Buy”) allow you to sell products from through Skills. For example, Starfinder, a sci-fi RPG on Alexa, will use the Alexa Shopping Action to allow consumers to purchase the board game. Alexa Shopping Actions are simple to use and integrate into skills. And, of course, they use the same security features that customers already use today to shop on Alexa.

More fun and engaging experiences

  • INTERACTIVE MEDIA SKILL COMPONENTS: Since early 2021, users have used Alexa-enabled devices to listen to billions of hours of music, radio and podcasts. To continue making Alexa use even smoother and smoother, we’re announcing the availability of Interactive Media Skill Components, which will reduce the time it takes for content producers – such as radio, podcasts and music – to launch interactive experiences on Alexa.

Alexa Live: here are the new features for developers

Useful for users, both at home and on the go

  • APIs FOOD SKILL: Amazon today announces the Food Skill APIs, which allow you to improve the user experience in terms of food delivery and takeaways, making it easier, more convenient and more precise, with improved discovery functions. Among these, there are also new ways to bring out customized offers for users when they ask Alexa for suggestions on food.
  • CUSTOM TASKS IN ROUTINE: Customers use Alexa Routines to simplify their daily lives, to automate and group their most requested actions, such as “Alexa, start my day” or “Alexa, goodnight” or “Alexa, relax”. The percentage of Alexa users using Routines has more than doubled since last year. Now, with Custom Tasks in Routines, users can customize routines and integrate them with skills. For example, a user has the ability to create the “Alexa, what’s happening today?” Routine, which takes them directly to quotes, trade news or market updates within their favorite News skill.
  • SEND TO PHONE: Thanks to the Send to Phone functionality, users can start an activity on their Alexa-enabled device and continue it on their smartphone. With the combination of Quick Links and Send to Phone it is possible to create ambient experiences that use both Alexa and the smartphone.
  • BETTER REASSORTMENT CAPACITY: Alexa can already reorder items like batteries, printer ink, and detergents. To make everyday life easier for users, we’re extending Alexa’s restocking capability to spare parts. This way, developers will also be able to make money every time these spare parts are ordered through Alexa.

Alexa Live: here are the new features for developers

More productivity for developers, for a quality user experience

  • ALEXA SKILL COMPONENTS: To make it easier to program skills, Amazon announces Alexa Skill Components, to give the possibility to develop skills faster, by inserting them into existing voice models and different libraries. With the Skill Components, you can take advantage of your time to focus on the unique aspects of your skills, dedicating less to operational programming. Skill Components are ready-to-use tools that can be easily integrated into voice apps. Each component is updated and leverages the latest conversational AI and multimodal skills.
  • VOICE-FORWARD ACCOUNT LINKING + VOICE FORWARD CONSENT: Today, users can set up voice profiles to allow Alexa to recognize their voice and personalize their experience. It is already possible to use this function within the skill to differentiate speakers or remember user preferences and settings. Now, Voice Forward Account Linking and Voice Forward Consent, make it easier for users to link their account on the developer system, or create a new one within the skill. With these features, users agree – through voice – to share their Alexa voice profile information, such as name and phone number. This reduces the need for users to remember their account credentials and leads them to use the skill more effectively.
  • ALEXA SKILL DESIGN GUIDE: Amazon continues to invest to reduce the complexity of building and maintaining skills. With this in mind, today announces a new version of the Alexa Skill Design Guide. The guide includes all the most important tips from Amazon’s developers as well as those from the large community of skill developers. Designed in voice-first mode, this guide covers the entire life cycle of skill development and will surely be useful to everyone, both for those who are new to design and for those in need of suggestions for more advanced programming. .
  • ALEXA ENTITIES: Alexa Entities is finally available. This feature allows skills to directly draw information from Alexa’s knowledge. For example, to get information on the population and the capital of Belgium, or to know the average weight of a hippo, thanks to the Alexa Entities function it is no longer necessary to obtain, acquire or manage your own catalog of general knowledge, but you can use those already present. To find out more, click here.
  • SKILL A/B TESTING SERVICE: Skill A / B Testing Service allows you to perform A / B tests, evaluate launch choices based on data, and then check the functionality of new updates.
  • ALEXA CONNECT KIT – INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION: It will soon be possible to prototype and sell Alexa Connect Kit, or ACK, devices outside the United States. With this service, you can purchase the Amazon-managed ACK hardware module and, for a low upfront fee, cover the use of the ACK cloud service for the life of the product. The ACK roadmap for this year includes Europe, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India and Australia.

Alexa Live: here are the new features for developers

Interoperability of Smart Home devices and voice assistants

  • MATTER: Amazon has always believed in creating an open Smart Home ambient ecosystem. By supporting multiple smart home protocols, it becomes easier for device manufacturers and developers to collaborate with Alexa and create innovative solutions for end consumers. Over the past year and a half, Amazon and other leading manufacturers of smart home devices have developed a new interoperability protocol called Matter. The main goal of this new standard is to make it easy for users to know that their devices in the home are compatible with all major voice services. For device makers, Matter will significantly reduce the effort required to make a new Smart Home device. The devices of the Echo family will be updated to be integrated with the Matter system. These changes will help millions of Echo users easily configure and control Matter products across their devices.
  • WHAT’S NEXT?: Amazon is committed to constantly innovating to bring to life international voice technology and ambient computing experiences for users, creating open tools and systems that allow developers, brands and device manufacturers to work in the best way. This is definitely the best time to develop Alexa skills.

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John Vassallo is a versatile writer who covers two fascinating realms: Automobiles and Electronics. With a deep knowledge and passion for both industries, John brings you the latest updates, trends, and insights in these dynamic fields. From the latest car models, automotive innovations, and advancements in electric and autonomous technologies, to cutting-edge electronics, gadgets, and emerging tech trends, John's articles provide comprehensive coverage to keep you informed.