What you need to know
- Amazon announced more than 50 new features to its Alexa voice assistant.
- Features include widgets for Echo Show devices, new ways to seamlessly connect to smartphones, and new paid monetization options.
- Verizon has also launched its own Alexa smart display.
During yesterday’s annual Alexa Live Developer Conference, Amazon announced more than 50 features it’s launching to help developers boost the capabilities of their virtual assistant. 50 may be a lot, but here are some of the features that are worth mentioning, including new widgets, monetization capabilities, and even an interesting new smart display from Verizon.
Widgets and Featured Skill Cards
Widgets are the hottest thing in 2021, with Google announcing a major overhaul with Android 12. Not to be outdone by its competition, Amazon plans to introduce widgets on its Echo Show devices. The company has already provided a mockup of the feature, which you can see below, and it says that the feature will help users more easily interact with Alexa skills by “being able” to add an item to a list check ‘or tap on a widget to be taken directly to the latest content that your skill has to offer.’
In addition to widgets, developers can now take advantage of Featured Skill Cards to enhance their home screen skills. This way, owners of the best Amazon Echo Show displays like the Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen) can discover new ways to interact with Alexa.
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Monetization and paid skills
Developers will now be able to pay for access to their skills. Users interested in accessing a skill will pay a one-time fee, similar to many apps. This will give developers opportunities to pay for premium skills, and it sounds like it could potentially lead to free and paid versions of the same skill.
Alexa Shopping Actions makes it easy for developers to sell Amazon.com products through their skills. Developers can even participate in the Amazon Associates program, which allows them to make a 10% commission on associated sales on qualifying products.
In addition, Amazon will expand its skills purchases to Canada and India later this year.
Alexa and your phone
Amazon deepens the connection between Alexa and your smartphone. The new Send to Phone feature lets users interact with a skill on their smart display as a speaker and continue the interaction on their smartphone for extra use. Companies such as McDonald’s UK, Twitter, Husqvarna, Iberia Airlines, Cookpad, and Lysol will be among the first to use this skill.
Object trackers are already angry this year, and Alexa’s Find My feature expands its API to more companies, including Samsung. Later this year, owners of the Samsung Galaxy S21 as the new Galaxy SmartTag + may tap Alexa to find their items.
Source: Business Wire
Amazon Alexa Guard gets an important security feature, which allows the assistant to connect to smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leak detectors. Whenever one of these detectors detects something wrong, users receive a Smart Alert notification. Compatible companies include Kidde, Moen, First Alert, and YoSmart.
Amazon also makes it easier for developers to build new skills faster. With Alexa Skill Components, developers can accelerate skills development “by simply plugging them into your existing speech models and code libraries.”
In addition, Amazon’s Echo family is being updated to support the new Matter interoperability standard, making it easier to buy smart devices without having to worry about whether or not to work with the system.
There were a lot of features announced at yesterday’s event, all of which you can read about on Amazon’s blog post. Verizon also took some time to launch its new smart display based on a customized version of Alexa. Other brands can also launch their own customized versions, which can open the door to tons of new personalized experiences.
Stay in frame
Amazon Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen)
The ultimate display from home
The Amazon Echo Show 10 is the best smart display for everyone in Amazon’s ecosystem. It has great audio and a large rotating display with a camera that can easily track your movements and keep you in the frame when you are on a call.
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