Amazon announced several new updates of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and numerous new features dedicated to Alexa’s skill developers, with new features that allow you to create more natural and engaging experiences. Several of these new features are still in beta version.
With the new ASK Software Development Kit (SDK) Controls framework, you can develop skills that offer richer multi-turn conversations, thanks to code componentization. The new metrics in the developer console analytics (Customer Behavior Analytics) also help to better understand the behavior of customers.
These new metrics can be combined with the flexibility now offered by multi-value slots (MVS, beta), catalog management and Alexa Entities (in preview), to better manage the way customers interact with skills.
In addition, with new tools such as the evaluation of the Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and the Alexa Skills Toolkit for Visual Studio Code, it is now possible to develop and test your skills better.
LupinAlexa Skills Toolkit 2.0 for Visual Studio Code allows you to create and test the skills within VS Code and simplifies local development. Previously, it was often necessary to divide most of the development time between the Alexa Developer Console and the local computer, if it was necessary to use tools such as Git and VS Code.
Now, with a dedicated workspace in VS Code, integrated support for creating and deploying Alexa-hosted skills and new features for local development, the developer can easily build and validate the
Quick Links for Alexa (in beta) is a new feature, available in the United States, which allows you to add a link from your mobile app, website or online ads on which customers can click to start their brand’s skill. This allows customers to access skills and developers more easily to monitor conversion from online ads.
Amazon also announced the new in-skill shopping (in-skill purchasing, ISP) and the possibility for customers to make in-skill purchases directly on Echo devices with screens.
APL for audio (also beta) offers new audio mixing features that allow Alexa to mix speech, sound effects, music and other runtime audio content on all Alexa enabled devices.
These new features extend the current Alexa Presentation Language (APL) framework so that you can quickly and easily offer exciting and engaging audio experiences.
Amazon has also announced new customization features that help Alexa’s skill developers create more engaging customer experiences.
Now, with the App-to-App Account Linking from the Alexa app, customers can enable their skills and connect their Alexa account to the developer service account, in a simplified two-titch procedure. L’App-to-App Account Linking from the Android app is generally available.
With the API Person Profile, it is possible for the developer to request information about customers to further customize their experiences. You can use Limit Access (in preview) to check which voice profile accesses your skill. In addition, when users make a request for the skill, you can request to verify them through voice recognition and a personal passcode.
Alexa Conversations (in beta) helps developers create more natural Alexa skills with fewer lines of code. Amazon explains that this is a new approach to the management of dialogues based on artificial intelligence, which allows you to create skills with which customers can interact in a more natural and less bound way, using the phrases they prefer and in the order they prefer. The Alexa Conversations function is available in the international en_US settings.
It is in preview Alexa for Apps, which allows you to bring customers into your iOS and Android mobile apps from your brand’s Alexa skill. With Alexa for Apps added to a custom skill, customers who make requests using the Alexa app, phones with integrated Alexa or mobile Alexa accessories like the Echo Buds, can use their own voice to interact with
Among the key use cases of this feature are, for example, the use of the item for quick searches, view more information and access the functionality of the app.
More information and more news for developers can be consulted by browsing the contents of the Alexa Skills Kit Blog.