Amazon Adds Over 50 Developer Features to Alexa

Posted on July 22, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Smart Home with 3 Comments

As part of its virtual Alexa Live event this week, Amazon announced over 50 new Alexa features for developers. The firm says that’s the largest number of Alexa developer features and tools it’s ever announced at one time.

“There are more than 900,000 registered Alexa developers who have built over 130,000 Alexa skills, hundreds of Alexa Built-in products across categories like PC’s, wearables, smart home devices, and cars, and more than 140,000 smart home products that can be controlled with Alexa,” Amazon’s Jeff Blankenburg says of the scope of this ecosystem. “It’s exciting to reaffirm our commitment to the Alexa builder community and share the latest product advancements and insights on the future of voice.”

Amazon tells me further that there are now “hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices” out in the world, and that the number of customers engaging with Alexa skills is growing at 40 percent year-over-year, with “strong growth in many categories including music, audio, games, and more.” And for those Alexa-curious developers out there, Alexa has helped generate billions of dollars for the developer and device maker community, and developer revenue from in-skill purchasing has more than doubled YOY.

So. What’s new? You should check out the original post for the complete list, but some of the key new Alexa developer features that Amazon announced this week include:

APL Widgets. These widgets are a new way for customers to interact with content from the home screen of their device. “Customers will be able to visit a Widget gallery to find and add widgets to their Favorites Panel on their home screen,” Amazon says, and developers can now use the Alexa Presentation Language (APL) to create Widgets that will ship to customers later this year.

Featured Skill Cards. Developers can use Featured Skill Cards to promote their skills on the Echo Show home screen alongside built-in cards for news, recipes, photos, and more.

Paid Skills. Predictably, Amazon has introduced an in-skill purchasing format called Paid skills that let customers pay a one-time, up-front fee to access the content in a skill. “This is ideal for premium skills where a customer is more likely to pay once to access the core skill experience and reduces the need for upsells for customers,” Amazon adds.

Multiplayer games on Alexa. Using the Shared Activities API, developers can now build asynchronous Multiplayer Challenges to make sharing games with friends possible.

Send to Phone. Users can now start an experience on their Alexa-enabled device at home and continue it on their smartphone. Using a combination of Quick Links and Send to Phone, developers can now build ambient experiences that work across home and mobile.

Alexa Guard. Users in the US can connect to smart safety devices such as smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak detectors, and Alexa Guard will send a mobile notification if they detect an incident.

Alexa Custom Assistants (ACAs). Developers can already build custom voice assistants built on Alexa technology, and they can have a unique wake word, voice, personality, and capabilities. Since launching this with automaker Stellantis, the program has expanded to include Qualcomm, Garmin, Elektrobit, and Continental, which have together announced the first integration of an ACA in a production vehicle. And Verizon will soon launch a smart display that leverages ACA technology.

Matter support. As Amazon notes, Matter is a new interoperability protocol aimed at making it easier for customers to know that their smart home devices will work with all major voice services. More specifically, Amazon says that it will upgrade most Echo family devices—including most Echo and Echo Dot devices and all Echo Studio, Echo Flex, Echo Plus, and Echo Show devices—to work with Matter. And Amazon will soon roll out tools that make it easy for developers to build Matter-certified devices.

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Comments (3)

3 responses to “Amazon Adds Over 50 Developer Features to Alexa”

  1. sherlockholmes

    Alexa, turn yourself off.

  2. faustxd9

    Now we need to get to the same point as cell phones on specifying how long each device will be supported for with new features but more importantly security patches. That will be the critical information going forward as these devices age and similar features are added into more expensive devices/appliances.

  3. jason_e

    Love all 12 of my Alexa devices. We have incorporated them into our every day life and if you actually take the time to learn how to use the service you will find it can be quite helpful. Of course most just want to complain about Alexa, Assistant and Siri. Especially those with tin foil hats on.