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Amazon aims to bring Alexa to life with the release of developer tools and features – TechCrunch




Amazon is attacking the Alexa voice platform after confirming that skill growth has slowed further over the past year. This indicates a delay in interest from third-party voice app developers. At today’s Alexa Live developer event, the company unveiled a number of new features and tools for the developer community. In fact, it’s the biggest new tool release ever. Some of the new releases encourage Alexa device owners to discover and engage with Alexa skills, new tools for making money from skills, and making Alexa a part of their day-to-day operations for their customers. There are other updates that encourage you.

Retailers’ expectations for Alexa as a voice shopping platform may not have worked as expected, as only a small percentage of Alexa’s customers actually purchased it on via smart speakers. However, Alexa’s footprint and developer community are still quite large, Amazon said today, revealing “millions” of Alexa devices that are used “billions of times” each week and over 130,000 Alexa skills 90. He pointed out that there are over 10,000 registered developers.

Still, Amazon hasn’t solved the challenge of helping customers find and discover the skills they want to use. This has historically been difficult with voice-only devices. This has been somewhat improved with the launch of Alexa devices with screens, such as the Alexa Show, which provides visual components.

But primarily, Alexa device owners continue to use the most basic features such as smart home controls, playing music, setting alarms and reminders, creating lists, and other simple queries. In most cases, what is considered a “runaway hit” voice app has not yet been created.

Image credit: Amazon

In an attempt to tackle this issue with more features, Amazon has introduced a way for developers to create widgets to suit their skills, allowing customers to add them to the screened Echo Show and other Alexa devices later this year. It says that it will be. Developers can also create featured skill cards to promote their skills in home screen rotations.

In other words, Amazon’s solution is to make Alexa like a mobile device in terms of app discovery. It’s probably useful for those who have an Alexa device with a screen, but it’s not a good sign for Alexa’s future as an audio-only platform.

On voice-only devices, on the other hand, developers respond when Alexa responds to common requests such as “Alexa, tell a story,” “Alexa, let’s play a game,” and “Alexa, you need.” , You will be able to propose skills. Above all, training. ” Alexa will also begin offering personalized skill suggestions based on the customer’s use of similar skills. A new “context detection” mechanism allows customers to perform skill-wide tasks using natural language and phrases. Of course, Amazon has tried other ways to suggest skills, but their impact has been negligible in the larger skill ecosystem. (Some efforts have even frustrated users.)

Amazon also said it is expanding the way developers are rewarded for their skills.

We already offer tools such as consumables, paid subscriptions, and in-skill purchases. Currently, support for paid skills will be added. This is a new in-skill purchase that allows customers to pay a one-time fee to access the content provided by the skill. We will also expand in-skill purchases to India and Canada.

So far, in-skill purchases haven’t made a lot of money yet. According to a 2019 report, Alexa skills revenue in the first 10 months of the year was only $ 1.4 million, well below Amazon’s goal of $ 5.5 million. It’s unclear if another way to buy will change that trend.

Amazon didn’t talk about how much developers earned, but instead said that developers’ revenue from in-skill purchases “more than doubled” year-over-year.

Amazon is also leveraging the developer community to promote sales on retail sites.

The new “shopping action” allows developers to sell Amazon products with their own skills. For example, in role-playing games, you can offer your customers the purchase of a desktop version, similar to the starfinder in science fiction games. Developers can also earn affiliate revenue by introducing their products.

Music and media skill developers will be able to use new tools for more interesting experiences, such as song request skills that DJs can use to receive song requests through Alexa adopted by iHeartRadio. Others reduce the time it takes radio, podcasts, and music providers to launch an interactive experience.

Other new features are aimed at making your skills more practical and useful.

Image credit: Amazon

For example, restaurants will have access to the Food Skill API, which allows them to create a pick-up and delivery ordering experience. New “Send to Phone” features allow developers to connect their skills to mobile devices, new event-based triggers and proactive suggestions to encourage users to lock their home when they leave. The experience is possible. Amazon-owned Whole Foods will use these features for the curbside pickup experience arriving later this year, the company said.

Alexa’s replenishment support, which allows you to reorder common household items such as laundry detergent and batteries, will also be extended to replacement parts to enhance integration with other types of household and smart home devices. Thermostat makers Carrier and Resideo use it to refill air filters, and Bissell uses it with a vacuum cleaner.

Meanwhile, manufacturers of safety devices such as smoke, carbon monoxide, and leak detectors will be able to work with Alexa Guard, Alexa’s security system, to send notifications to mobile devices.

Amazon is also introducing a set of new tools that make it easier for developers to create skills. This includes the ability to use Alexa entities, which are basically Amazon’s own general Wikipedia-like knowledge. You’ll also have access to Alexa Conversations natural language features, previously only in the US (now in beta in Germany, developer preview in Japan, and support for all English locales), in addition to new tools to support custom pronunciation. .. The longer list of tools focuses on regional extensions of existing toolkits (ie AVS, ACK), as well as other tools that enable better interoperability with smart home devices.




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