Amazon introduced Alexa Blueprints last year as a way for anyone to create their own Alexa SKills, without any coding, right from a web browser. They later made it possible to share those custom skills with friends and family, but now they’ve announced that you can publish your custom skills to the Alexa Skill store for anyone to use. Read more ›
Amazon has teamed up with ChooseCo, publishers of the classic Choose Your Own Adventure series of books, to bring their guided adventure stories to Alexa devices. A new Choose Your Own Adventure Alexa Skill has been released using Amazon’s Audible brand. The skill currently offers two different books that are both free. Read more ›
Amazon has announced the release of a Baby Activity Skill API for Alexa devices. This will allow parents to use natural language with Alexa to log their babies activity through apps and devices. To start off, the API will allow Weight, Sleep, Diaper Change, and Feeding commands. Read more ›
Amazon has published some interesting information about how they’re preventing Alexa devices from activating to mentions of their wake word in movies, TV shows, ads, radio, and more. An audio fingerprinting system is used to identify and store individual media mentions of Alexa that can be used to determine when the wake word should be ignored. This is done both in the cloud, to quietly turn Alexa devices back off after a media trigger, and locally on Alexa devices themselves, to completely prevent devices from waking up in the first place. Read more ›
Amazon has just put up a cryptic page for a, presumably fictitious, new Amazon Beta Testing Program that is somehow linked to an upcoming 2019 Super Bowl LIII ad. The page explains that the program is a “top secret division of Amazon which employs celebrities to test Alexa-enabled technologies such as sub-aquatic audio waveform resonance, interspecies language translation, and voice-controlled body de-stressers.” Four 10-second videos are embedded on the page, featuring celebrities Harrison Ford, Forest Whitaker, Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer, and twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly. Read more ›
Amazon has announced a new tool for developers that makes it much easier to add in-skill purchasing (ISP) to Alexa Skills, as spotted by CNET. Where before, developers had to use an unintuitive command-line interface to add purchases to their skills, they can now use a simpler web interface built directly into the Alexa Developer Console that they’re already used to using. For Alexa users, this will likely mean that more and more of the 70,000 Alexa Skills will likely begin adopting and experimenting with premium features that require paying money. Be sure you’ve got an Alexa PIN set up for voice purchases if you have kids or others that might inadvertently buy something while interacting with Alexa.
One of the most interesting 3rd-party Alexa devices to come out of CES 2019 is easily the new Lenovo Smart Tab line of Android tablets with an included speaker dock. They are the first 3rd-party tablets to use Amazon’s Show Mode feature with hands-free Alexa built-in, which essentially turns them into an Echo Show when docked. Unlike Amazon’s own Show Mode Dock for their Fire tablets, which is nothing more than a charging stand that triggers Show Mode, Lenovo has put Dolby Atmos speakers and 3 far-field microphones in the dock to make this a true alternative to the Echo Show. Read more ›
Amazon has announced a couple of big car navigation related partnerships for Alexa at CES 2019. The first is a partnership with Telenav, a connected car navigation platform. The second is a partnership with HERE Technologies, who’s navigation systems are in over 100 million cars. In both cases, Alexa will now be integrated into each companies future products. While this doesn’t directly affect consumers today, it means that Alexa will be found on many more car navigation systems in the near future as a baked-in component from the start. In the case of the HERE partnership, it also means Alexa will have access to much more mapping data, which will improve Alexa’s direction related queries outside of the car as well.
Amazon has posted a list of Alexa Skills that they consider to be the best of the year. The list is divided into various categories, such as best game skills, best family skills, and best wellness skills. Check out the list of best Alexa Skills to find some new Alexa capabilities to add to your Echos and Fire TVs. If you have Echo Buttons, which are still on sale for $13.99, you should also check out the winners of the Echo Button game skill contest that just got posted.
An Amazon Echo Spot that was allegedly stolen from its buyer’s front door shortly after being delivered has been reunited with its owner after the alleged thief received a call from the owner through Alexa’s Drop-In feature. A Reddit user, who goes by the adorable name of PokiestPuppy, has shared details of the incident with fellow Alexa customers and is still on the hunt for the alleged thief with recordings of their voice and WiFi information in hand. Read more ›