Amazon has expanded the feature set available to Alexa Skill developers to include the ability to stream audio. Prior to this additions, developers could only include short audio clips in their Alexa Skills. This was used most commonly for intro sounds and short sound effects within games. The ability to stream audio and control streaming audio playback opens Alexa enabled devices to a new bread of Alexa Skills. Theoretically, a streaming music service could build an Alexa Skill that grants access to the service’s entire library. Prior to this change, streaming services needed to be integrated into Alexa’s default abilities, like when Spotify arrived on the Amazon Echo, but now it will require much less integration.
Live streaming audio is also now supported, so any live content provider, like a radio station, can build a dedicated Alexa Skill for their stream, instead of relying on services like TuneIn to stream their content. Similarly, you can probably expect to see Alexa Skills for individual podcasts released in the coming months. These should provide a better user experience than requesting podcasts from services like iHeartRadio.