Amazon introduces a smarter ‘Alexa’ with more than 50 new features

San Francisco: Amazon has introduced more than 50 new features to make its home assistant Alexa smarter, allowing developers to create Widgets for their skills which customers can add to their Alexa devices with a screen later this year.

The company also announced ‘Paid Skills’, a new form of monetisation for the developers. With Paid Skills, customers pay a one-time fee, upfront, to access the content in your skill.

Amazon also expanded in-skill purchasing capabilities internationally to India and Canada.

“There are more than 900,000 registered Alexa developers who have built over 130,000 Alexa skills, hundreds of Alexa Built-in products across categories like PC’s, wearables, smart home devices, and cars, and more than 140,000 smart home products that can be controlled with Alexa,” the company informed during its ‘Alexa Live’ virtual event this week.

Widgets are a new way for customers to interact with content from the home screen of their device, including rich, customizable, glanceable, self-updating views of skill content.

“With Widgets, interactive skill experiences are available to customers even before they invoke your skill. For example, imagine a customer being able to ‘check an item off a list’ or tap a widget to be taken straight to the latest content your skill has to offer,” Amazon informed.

Developers can also build ‘Featured Skill Cards’ to promote their skills in the home screen rotation.

Another key feature is ‘Alexa Shopping Actions,’ which will enable users to sell products from within your skill.

“Alexa Shopping Actions are simple to use and integrate into your skill experience. And of course, it leverages the same security features that customers are using today to shop on Alexa,” said the company.

With the ‘Send to Phone’ feature, customers can start an experience on their Alexa-enabled device, and continue it on their mobile phone.

Alexa now has the capability to help customers find lost items at home.

Available first in private beta, you can use the newly available ‘Find My APIs’ to create Alexa Smart Home skills that help customers find important things they have misplaced such as keys, wallets, headphones, remotes, and even pets.

“Customers can simply say ‘Alexa, Find my’ or ‘Alexa, Ring my’ to locate tracked items. We are now opening up Find My to support additional device makers with this launch. Samsung and Remote+ will be adding Find My capabilities in 2021,” the company announced.



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