Amazon’s Alexa devices are atmospheric computers, not the ones you use all day. When you make ask Echo a question or glance at the scaled-down screen of the Echo Show screen, the voice assistant has only a short chance to make an impression. Today, Amazon announces that it will provide more of these opportunities to third-party developers – including brand new widgets and featured skill cards that could take a piece of a smart speaker’s precious property.
Here’s what to expect from those and everything else the company is announcing today at Alexa Live.
As you can see from the Amazon model above, widgets looks pretty much like you might expect. In its blog post, Amazon describes them as “rich, customizable, striking, self-updating skill content views” where you can check items in your to-do list or activate skill features without having to say “Alexa” first. It’s not yet clear how limited they are or whether they can actually be a way to build a touchscreen app for the Echo show.
Skill cards shown can be a bit controversial depending on how useful they are. It promotes new Alexa skills on your home screen, even if you haven’t asked for them. It’s not quite an advertising service, says Amazon Alexa Skills CEO Aaron Rubenson Limit, no developers have to pay. “Everyone has the opportunity to raise their hand and say they want to be a part of it,” he says, adding that you see personal results based on other signals sent by Alexa. One of the first skill cards is Comedy Central, and Rubenson says he might see it because he’s already listening to some comedy at Alexa Flash Briefing every morning.
But even if you don’t have an Echo with a display, you might get more Alexa skills for you soon. Amazon says it will expand it anonymous interaction toolkit let the skills become volunteers when you speak phrases like “Alexa, how did the Nasdaq do today?”
“We’ll let the developers raise their hands and say, ‘My skill can handle this request,'” Rubenson says, “and if you agree to use the skills suggested by Amazon, Alexa can take your request forward instead of making yourself repeatable.”
While Amazon was the only one that previously benefited from physical goods sold through Alexa, the company allows Alexa’s skill developers to sell products within their skills as well. Alexa shopping and receive up to a 10 percent affiliate marketing fee from Amazon as well. As expected, you can only sell products listed on Amazon.com, although they don’t have to be your Products. (Rubenson couldn’t say if Amazon would allow skills that are practically just shops.) Amazon also introduces paid skills, so don’t be surprised if you have to pay before using the next Alexa app instead of using the in-app purchase in retrospect.
Although Amazon not yet It seems to have attracted competitors Apple, Google and Samsung to their voice interoperability initiative, it also has some news on this front. Rubenson says Samsung has a refrigerator where both Bixby and Alexa work together Alexa Custom Assistant (which allows brands to create their own Alexa-powered assistant) appears on the Verizon smart screen, where Alexa can handle standard Alexa tasks, while the new Verizon assistant can handle requests such as reviewing a wireless bill. Rubenson says they can also send requests to each other.
In addition to these highlights, here’s a quick bullet of other Alexa updates that caught my attention:
- Food Skills APIs “high quality food delivery and pick-up experiences”. Domino’s Pizza uses it at some point; here is an example:
- Send to phone where “customers can start the experience with their Alexa-compliant device and continue it on their mobile phone”. McDonald’s UK, Twitter, Husqvarna, Iberia Airlines, Cookpad and Lysol combine their mobile apps with Alexa skills.
- Event-based triggers and proactive proposals: “For example, if a client leaves for work, clients may choose a skill that suggests they lock their home.” Whole Foods will launch an “edge pickup experience” later this year.
- Find me opens the “Alexa, Find my” command for more companies with tile-type device tracking, and Samsung and Remote + will arrive later this year.
- Alexa Device Discovery can find new categories of devices such as printers and smart TVs.
- Alexa entities Now any skill developer can use Alexa’s spreadsheet to get general answers.
It’s not the whole list, note: There’s even more to Amazon’s entire blog post that we’ll add to this story when it’s live. In addition, Amazon will announce it today almost all smart Echo speakers support Matter, a new ambitious open standard for smart devices.
All of the new features are coming as part of the company’s Alexa Live Developer Conference today, where it aims to attract the next generation of programmers to build the skills of its voice assistant. Amazon says it now has 900,000 registered developers and 130,000 skills (750,000 developers a year ago and 100,000 skills in September 2019), and Rubenson says developers ’incomes have doubled each year, with some skill developers earning more than $ 1 million a year.