Last month, Amazon made it possible for Alexa devices to recognize individual users by their voice. This made it possible for Echo devices to tailor their responses for individual people, such as playing music specific to a person’s taste, or not asking for a PIN when a recognized user is voice shopping. According to TechCrunch, Amazon will soon make their voice recognition technology available to Alexa Skill developers so that they too can distinguish one person from another in order to customize a users experience.
Amazon is currently holding their annual AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. While the focus of the event is primarily on Amazon’s cloud computing platform that powers the backend of a lot of websites and online services, they spent some time talking about Alexa during their keynote. Most notably for consumers, Amazon says that the technology that powers their “Your Voice” recognition system will make its way to third-party developers in early 2018.
With the ability to recognize individual speakers, Alexa skills will be able to personalize the experience for individuals. Placing a pizza order through an Alexa, for example, could distinguish between roommates and automatically charge the appropriate account, or Alexa games could continue where each family member last left off.
Another change to Alexa that was discussed is the expansion of Alexa notifications to skill developers. If you choose to enable them, Alexa can already notify you of shopping and delivery notifications that tell you when to expect a package ordered from Amazon. Amazon has allowed a very limited set of third-party skills, namely AccuWeather, Washington Post, Dominos, Just Eat, and Life360, to also send notifications. Amazon has announced that they’ll now be expanding notification privileges to additional third-party skill developers.
All Alexa notifications will still be opt-in, so you should never be surprised by a skill sending you a notification. Amazon also has strict guidelines for developers when it comes to notifications, such as not allowing any form of advertisement through a notification. They also suggest that notifications be sent sparingly and that they should be specific to a user and not generically pushed to everyone using a particular Alexa skill.