Logitech updates their Alexa Smart Home Skill for Harmony remotes with more natural commands

Logitech has announced that their Alexa Smart Home Skill, which allows control of their Harmony remotes and hubs, now supports more natural language commands using the new entertainment control capabilities that were just made available to developers by Amazon. These updates now remove the need to have two different Alexa skills for Harmony devices and make controlling devices much more intuitive. Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: , ,

Amazon adds Entertainment Capabilities to Alexa so skill developers can better control TVs and media players

Amazon has announced an expansion of the Alexa Skill API which gives skill developers and device manufacturers more natural ways to control media devices like TVs, remotes, A/V receivers, and IR hubs. This new capability is surely what will make it possible to control the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick using Alexa devices, which is a new feature that Amazon accidentally leaked yesterday. Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: ,

Unofficial AFTVnews flash briefing Alexa skill now available

A reader of the site has created an unofficial AFTVnews flash briefing that you can hear through your Alexa devices. He is using the site’s standard RSS feed, so it’s not a perfect experience. For starters, Alexa does not read the title of each post before reading the post itself. It also cuts the post off abruptly by saying “read more,” since the RSS feed provides a “read more” link for text readers to click, which obviously doesn’t make sense in the case of an Alexa flash briefing. Despite the issues, give the flash briefing a try if you tend to use that aspect of Alexa, and let me know in the comments if you’d like me to work on improving the experience.

Posted in Article Tagged with: , ,

You can now listen to SiriusXM through Alexa on devices like the Amazon Echo and Fire TV

SiriusXM, the satellite radio network, has just released a new Alexa Skill that allows you to listen to the service’s radio stations through Alexa. Even though this is an Alexa skill, accessing SiriusXM stations is similar to accessing music through service’s like Spotify or Pandora. Once you have the Alexa skill enabled, which you can do by saying “Alexa, enable SiriusXM,” and configured your login credentials through the Alexa app, you can then ask “Alexa, play [station name] on SiriusXM” to start listening to a station. Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: , ,

Amazon clarifies what types of ads are allowed in Alexa skills and reaffirms that most ads are banned


Amazon updated their developer policy recently to ban nearly all advertisements from Alexa skills. As the Alexa platform continues to rapidly grow, having now reaching over 12,000 skills, it’s beginning to attract advertisers, despite Amazon’s policy on the matter. Amazon has just updated their policy on Alexa skill ads again to be more specific on the types of ads that are allowed, and reassert that the vast majority of ads are not permitted in Alexa skills. Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: ,

All Alexa-enabled devices will soon get notifications

Notifications from Amazon and Alexa skills will soon be coming to all Alexa-enabled devices. This includes Amazon’s own Alexa devices, like the Echo and Echo Dot, as well as 3rd-party devices, like the newly released Ecobee4 smart thermostat. All notifications will be opt-in per skill through the Alexa app, so you’ll have to explicitly turn them on separately for each Alexa skill. Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: ,

Amazon will directly pay developers of top Alexa game skills based on customer engagement

Amazon is shutting down their Underground appstore, but they’re not giving up on the idea of paying developers based on the amount of time users play a game. Starting this month, the retailer will be directly paying developers of top Alexa game skills. Payments will be based on “a variety of metrics, such as minutes of usage, new customers, and other measures of engagement.” Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: , ,

Alexa Skills can now read and modify your shopping and to-do lists

Late last year, Amazon added support for 3rd-party list managers to Alexa. This allowed services like Any.do or Todoist to take over list managing duties from Alexa, so saying “add eggs to my shopping list” would modify the 3rd-party list and not the list built into the Alexa app. For those not interested in using a 3rd-party list manager and just want to use Alexa’s built-in lists with some more features, Amazon is now allowing Alexa skill developers to read and modify your default Alexa shopping and to-do lists. Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: ,

Amazon bans nearly all ads from Alexa Skills

Amazon has updated their Alexa Skills Policy to outright ban nearly all advertisements from skills. The policy used to state that ads were only not allowed in Alexa cards, which are the visual snippets of information that appear on the Fire TV and Fire Tablets, that compliment Alexa responses. Now the Alexa skills policy states that a skill will be rejected from entry into the Alexa Skill Store if it “contains any advertising for third-party products or services, except in streaming music, streaming radio or flash briefing skills.” Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: ,

Any Alexa skill can now be used without enabling it first

Alexa skills are the equivilant of apps for Amazon’s voice assistant, and the company has incrementally been making it easier to use new skills. You first had to use the Alexa app to enable a skill before it could be accessed, but then Amazon added the ability to enable a skill using your voice. Now they’ve taken it a step further by making it possible to simply say “Alexa, open [SKILL NAME]” and it will immediately be available without first having to enable it. Read more ›

Posted in Article Tagged with: ,




Get notified of new posts

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.