Amazon Opens Alexa-Skills Development To More Players

In order to expand the number of devices on which Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, is available, the online retail giant is making the developer tools accessible to more commercial device makers. The unveiling of Alexa Voice Service Device software development kit will see more firms obtaining the abilities needed to make Alexa fully functional on their devices. This includes handling speech recognition and other functionalities of the virtual assistant such as weather reports, notifications, alarms, timers, and media streaming.

Invite-only developers

Previously the Alexa software development kit was restricted to invite-only developers of which Amazon has revealed that there were about 50 of them who had added Alexa to some of their products. Some of these developers included Senic, a maker of smart home devices that is based in Berlin, Germany and which has been working towards getting Alexa added to its smart home product COVI.

Another developer is Technicolor which has been developing Alexa skills for its Home Networking Extender and Gateway. Developers can access the Alexa Voice Service Device software development kit for free on GitHub. The software development kit contains documentation, APIs. Hardware development kits, tutorials and other developer aids.

Amazon’s strategy of expanding the variety and number of devices on which Alexa is available on is already evidenced in a Huawei smartphone – the Huawei Mate 9 which offers the Seattle, Washington-based online retail giant’s voice assistant as one of the options. Other branded products on which Alexa is available include Triby internet radio and the Ecobee4 thermostat. Alexa is also present in a couple of other devices such as smartwatches, intercoms, alarm clocks and speakers.

Extra Echo features

At the same time Amazon is also expanding the number of devices that have Alexa and this now includes speakers that come with extra features such as a screen on Echo Show and a camera on Echo Look.

Amazon’s move to increase the number of Alexa developers coincides with the retailer’s decision to start paying developers who come up with Alexa skills that are highly engaging and popular. Previously some of the categories that Alexa developers were paid for include accessories, trivia and games but will now include productivity, audio, music, lifestyle, health and fitness, food and drink as well as education and reference. The amount that will be paid out to each developer will depend on the level of engagement of the skill developed. Some of the most popular skills are unique and designed voice-first.

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