Amazon expands Alexa Skills Kit, Alexa Voice Services to India

The Alexa Skills Kit enables developers to make custom skills for their apps and Alexa Voice Services are used to integrate the intelligent assistant directly into their products.

Published Date
10 - Oct - 2017
| Last Updated
10 - Oct - 2017
 
Amazon expands Alexa Skills Kit, Alexa Voice Services to India

Amazon has extended its Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Services (AVS) to India and it enables developers to start creating voice experience for Alexa customers here. ASK is a collection of self-service API’s and tools that enables users to create functions for Alexa. Indian companies such as Ola, Saavn, Goibibo and many more are building their own dedicated “skills” for Alexa. These skills allow users to perform various functions using speech. The AVS is used to embed Alexa into their product and devices.

Read the complete press release below

Amazon today announced the expansion of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), enabling developers around the world to build voice experiences for Alexa customers in India.

“Our philosophy from day one was to make it as easy as possible for developers to create voice experiences with Alexa and reach customers in a totally new way,” said Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa. “Tens of thousands of developers are already building innovative Alexa skills and Alexa-enabled products. We are excited to expand our tools to enable developers around the world to reach Alexa customers in India.”

Add Capabilities to Alexa Using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK)

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create skills, or capabilities, for Alexa. With ASK, designers, developers, and brands can build engaging skills and reach millions of customers in the US, UK, Germany, and now India. Anyone can design and build for voice, no coding knowledge is required. From daily news updates, to interactive games, to smart-home integrations, developers from India and all over the world are creating voice-first experiences with Alexa. More than 10,000 skills will be available when the service launches to customers in India this month.
 
Build Skills with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Whether it’s computing power, database storage, or content delivery, AWS has a wide range of services to help developers build sophisticated applications with increased flexibility, scalability and reliability. The easiest way for Alexa skill developers to connect their skill to the cloud is to use AWS Lambda, an innovative compute service that runs code only when needed and scales automatically, so there is no need to provision or continuously run servers. Developers can also enhance and scale skills using additional AWS offerings such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon CloudFront.
 
Developer Response—Tens of Thousands of Developers Around the World Building Skills
Developers can now use the Alexa Skills Kit to build skills for customers in India —here’s what they are saying:
 
Saavn, one of the world’s leading music providers, is bringing its selection of 37 million Bollywood, English, Hindi, and Indian regional songs, top artists, expertly curated playlists, and custom radio stations to Alexa using the Alexa Skills Kit. “The same way you would ask a friend to play your favourite song, the Saavn skill for Alexa gives you a natural way to access an extensive music catalogue. We're honored to work with Amazon – our relationship enables us to provide a seamless experience to our listeners instantly. All of Saavn’s songs are yours. Just ask Alexa,” said Jaikaran Sawhny, VP of Product, Saavn.
 
ESPNcricinfo is the voice of cricket in India and globally, and is committed to best-in-class experiences for cricket fans through its live scoring, stats, commentary, engaging content, trusted and insightful analysis, expanding library of video and more. Using the Flash Briefing API in the Alexa Skills Kit, the ESPNcricinfo skill provides fans updates on India’s favourite sport as a part of their daily briefing. “We are cricket fans ourselves and we understand a fan's curiosity to follow the news around the sport from across the world. With the ESPNcricinfo skill for Alexa, fans will now have cricket updates including news, schedules, stats, and more at their command. We are excited to develop this skill with Amazon for customers in India,” said Ramesh Kumar, Vice President, Head of ESPN India and South Asia.
 
The Times of India, one of the largest English-language dailies in the world, is using the Alexa Skills Kit to enable users to access up-to-the-minute news headlines on demand, just by asking Alexa. “News updates and headlines on demand from your favourite news daily is now just an ‘ask’ away. We are excited to bring the TOI Skill on Alexa to deliver regular news updates for our customers,” said Puneet Gupt, COO Digital News, Times Internet.
 
NDTV, a global news provider and television media company, is using the Flash Briefing API in the Alexa Skills Kit to create a skill that provides customers with the top news headlines from the world of Business, Technology, Bollywood, Cricket, and more, just by asking. “NDTV remains committed to innovation and adaptability and has developed an Alexa skill so our users can now get voice alerts for the latest, fastest and most credible headlines in news, entertainment, sports and more,” said Suparna Singh, CEO, NDTV Convergence.
 
Goibibo, the largest online hotel booking platform and leading travel (car, bus, train) aggregators in India, is using the Alexa Skills Kit to make it easier for customers to book a trip without lifting a finger. “Our mission at Goibibo is to deliver convenient user experiences, whether that be the quickest search and booking, or seamless payment processes,” said Sanjay Bhasin, COO, Goibibo.com. “Voice is the easiest form of interaction, so Alexa is the perfect way for us to continue to deliver on our mission for our customers.”
 
Ola is India's most popular mobile app for transportation and used the Alexa Skills Kit to create a custom skill that enables their customers to book rides and more using simply their voice. “As a leader in smart urban transportation, Ola is excited to work with Amazon to bring the power of voice for our customers. Just ask Alexa to book an Ola cab and see one arrive at your location,” said Rajiv Thondanoor, Vice President of Product Management at Ola.
 
Millions of people around the world rely on Uber for their daily commute. They used the Alexa Skills Kit to bring their popular Alexa skill to customers in India. “At Uber, we’re constantly innovating and finding new ways to enhance the ride experience,” said Madhu Kannan, Senior Director, Business Development, Uber India and Emerging Markets. “Being able to simply ask Alexa to book an Uber ride takes convenience to a new level and we’re excited to bring this functionality to our riders in India.”
 
SYSKA LED, the leading LED Lighting solutions company in India, has leveraged the Smart Home API in the Alexa Skills Kit to connect their Syska Rainbow LED WiFi Bulbs to Alexa. “At Syska, we aim to make the smart home accessible to everyone,” said Gurumukh Uttamchandani, Executive Director, Syska. “Now customers can simply ask Alexa to turn on the bedroom light, or brighten the kitchen light and their SYSKA lights will respond instantly. We can’t wait to see the reaction from customers.”
 
Philips Lighting is a world leader in lighting products, systems and services. Philips Hue is working with Amazon Alexa to bring a feature rich voice controlled lighting experience to consumers in India. “We believe that enabling people to turn their lights on and off, dim them to the desired brightness, change colors and more through simple voice commands will be a magical experience for consumers,” said Sumit Joshi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Philips Lighting India. “It’s essential that smart home technology is simple, accessible and easy to use, and that's why we're so excited about Amazon Alexa. We believe consumers in India will appreciate how easy it is to set up their Philips Hue voice control with Alexa in their homes.”
UrbanClap is a lifestyle service that connects verified experts and professionals with Indian customers seeking services. The UrbanClap skill leverages the Alexa Skills Kit and allows customers to quickly and easily book home services with just their voice. “Alexa and UrbanClap share a vision of simplifying and organising the way we communicate in the digital world,” said Raghav Chandra, Co-Founder, UrbanClap. “Using a natural form of interaction like voice has simplified booking of home services by simply asking Alexa.”

Zomato, the leading global restaurant discovery and food ordering platform used by millions of customers worldwide, is now using the Alexa Skills Kit to make dining out or ordering in even more seamless and enjoyable for their users. “Our motto at Zomato is to make the discovery of great meals easy and accessible for all our users," said, Pramod Rao - Global Head - Content, Zomato. "Through the Zomato skill, users can now ask Alexa to recommend nearby restaurants to dine out, book a table, or even place an order for home delivery using just their voice. It’s another way we’re making the experience dining out or ordering in more convenient and fun for our customers."
 
Freshmenu is a one-stop-shop to order good food online. Their team leveraged the Alexa Skills Kit to enable customers to browse food categories and place delivery orders. “Getting food when you are hungry has never been easier. With our Alexa skill, good food is now easily accessible with a few simple voice commands. Ask Alexa to order from Freshmenu and see your favourite dishes land at your doorstep,” said Rashmi Daga, CEO, FreshMenu.
 
Indian recipe creator Tarla Dalal inspired millions of at-home cooks. Now, through the Alexa Skills Kit, her team is creating an Alexa skill that provides customers with hands-free access to Tarla’s favourite recipes. “Encouraging people to enjoy cooking at home was always a part of my mother’s vision,” said Sanjay Dalal, Owner, TarlaDalal.com. “We are thrilled to be part of the launch of Alexa in India with our Tarla Dalal skill, designed to make it easy to find delicious and heathy meals for every occasion, even while your hands are busy doing something else.”
 
Home services start-up Housejoy will also be available on Alexa as a skill. Customers can now easily call for home repair technicians as well as seek support to install their new home appliances with just their voice. “With busy lifestyles, customers are actively seeking for convenience and high quality when it comes to their home service needs. Through Alexa, we will be able to give customers a really simple & efficient way to book and track their orders. For example, a customer has to just ask Alexa to book a plumber and an expert plumber will reach the location within an hour” said Krishna Mohan Gadi, Vice President – Product, Housejoy.
 
Leading travel search market place ixigo will now help you plan your travel more effectively with Alexa. "The ixigo Skill on Alexa provides a smarter option to pick and choose flights for our customers. It gives a whole new perspective to travel planning, since you could just say ‘Alexa, ask ixigo where can I fly for ten thousand rupees in December?’ and get inspired with varied travel options. From searching & booking flights, to checking a flight status, to even doing an automated web check-in on popular airlines, the ixigo skill offers the most seamless travel planning experience for Alexa users on Echo,” said Rajnish Kumar, CTO & Co-Founder, ixigo.
 
Bollywood fans can now get all the latest updates by just asking Alexa on BollywoodHungama, a popular online destination for all the latest news from the film, music and the entertainment industry in India. “Voice command and AI are the next bastions for consumer delight in the very rapidly changing digital landscape. Hungama has been at the forefront of the Indian media and entertainment content, with BollywoodHungama being an integral part of the Indian film and music industry. We are delighted to enable BollywoodHungama as a Flash Briefing skill and provide our consumers the latest updates, news and reviews from Bollywood with a simple voice command with Alexa”, said Neeraj Roy, Founder and CEO of BollywoodHungama.
 
Faasos is an Indian "food on demand" company that was incorporated in 2011 and operates in 16 of the largest cities in India. According to Soumyadeep Barman, CTO, Faasos, “Superfast ordering experience powered by an intelligent recommendation system is what Faasos and Alexa team have been working on. Faasos Skill on Alexa recommends products basis your history and enables you to order & track your food in seconds. Smart-ordering is the next big step for a food-tech player like us and with this experience, we will be able to provide enhanced customer experience with voice ordering by breaking the clutter in decision making from hundreds of listed products.
 
BOX8, a full stack online food delivery brand that specialises in preparing and delivering delicious Indian meals across Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru & Delhi, is using Alexa Skills Kit to bring ease, simplicity and excitement to the food ordering process. "Our primary goal at BOX8 is to deliver delightful experience always. and Alexa aligns beautifully with our values,” said Shivaji Bose, CTO, BOX8. “With simple conversational commands such as, 'Alexa, Open Box8', 'Alexa, check order status with Box8', users can save a lot of time and enjoy a seemless and effortless order journey. We are confident that this voice experience will bring delight to the user.”
 
 
We invite developers to join the Alexa team at upcoming Alexa Dev Days events, our first webinar for Alexa developers in India, and other in-person events to learn about building Alexa skills. Get started at https://developer.amazon.com/in/alexa-skills-kit.

Alexa Voice Service (AVS): Integrate Alexa into Any Connected Product

The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) enables developers to integrate Alexa directly into their products, bringing the convenience of voice control to any connected device. AVS provides developers with access to a suite of resources to quickly and easily build Alexa-enabled products, including APIs, hardware development kits, software development kits, and documentation. Through AVS, device makers can add a new intelligent interface to their products and offer customers access to a growing number of Alexa features, smart home integrations, and skills. Starting today, developers can begin building an AVS prototype, and can sign up for the developer preview to be notified when AVS will be widely available for customers in India.

Developer Response – Now Even More Devices With Alexa

In the two years since AVS launched, developers have integrated Alexa into a variety of devices including mobile phones, wearables, smart home devices, and speakers. Tens of thousands of developers are taking advantage of AVS to voice-enable their products. Hardware makers are already planning voice-driven experiences for customers in India— here’s what those developers are saying:

HTC Corporation, a leading innovator in mobile and virtual reality technology is using the Alexa Voice Service to create a hands-free Alexa experience. The recently launched flagship HTC U11 was the first smartphone on the market to feature hands-free wake word access to Amazon Alexa. Customers can access Alexa at home and on the go with HTC U11 through the HTC Alexa app. With HTC Edge Sense, customers can also squeeze the phone to invoke HTC Alexa, providing another convenient way to access Alexa. “Whether you’re at work, in the park, or at home, you have the convenience to access Amazon Alexa either hands-free or by squeezing your HTC U11 phone,” said Mr. Faisal Siddiqui, President South Asia, HTC. “Customers love being able to access Alexa capabilities wherever they go and we’re thrilled to bring the same functionality to customers in India.”

BPL will bring its first smart speaker with Alexa to customers in India in 2018. “We’re excited to leverage the Alexa Voice Service and to be amongst the first Indian electronics brands to bring the Alexa experience to our customers,” said Ajit Nambiar, Chairman & Managing Director at BPL. “With the BPL Voice One, customers can ask Alexa to listen to music, control their smart home, order food, and much more.”

Onkyo, a consumer electronics manufacturer specialising in premium home entertainment products, is using the Alexa Voice Service to integrate Alexa into the Onkyo P3 (VC-PX30) smart speaker. “Voice control brings an entirely new dynamic to the living room,” said Nobuaki Okuda, CTO of Onkyo corporation. “With Alexa, our Onkyo smart speaker not only sounds great but adds functionality and value for customers. We’re looking forward to making this product available to customers in India.”

HARMAN designs and engineers connected products and solutions for automakers, consumers, and enterprises worldwide. They plan to bring the Harman Kardon Allure, an intelligent speaker with Alexa built right in, to customers in India through the Alexa Voice Service. “One of the most popular uses for digital voice services is music streaming. With Harman Kardon Allure’s premium sound quality and iconic design, and Amazon’s exceptional voice-enabled technology, HARMAN is delivering on its promise to elevate a connected life through smart technology. We’re excited to bring this product to customers in India,” said Pradeep Chaudhry, Country Manager, HARMAN India.

boAt will bring its first smart speaker with Alexa to customers in India in early 2018. “We’re excited to leverage the Alexa Voice Service to bring the Alexa experience to our customers in India,” said Aman Gupta, Co-Founder of boAt. “With the boAt Stone 2000 Series, customers can ask Alexa to listen to music, order food, get their flash briefing on the go, and more.”

Anker is a maker of high-tech household solutions and used the Alexa Voice Service to integrate Alexa into the Eufy Genie smart speaker. “We’re thrilled to bring the Eufy Genie to customers in India,” said Steven Yang, Founder and CEO, Anker. “Our popular smart speaker combines incredible sound and beautiful design with the Alexa Voice Service – at a price anyone can afford.”

RIVA is bringing its award-winning RIVA CONCERT smart speaker with Alexa to India. “We are really excited to bring the Alexa experience to the RIVA CONCERT,” said Rikki Farr, Founder of RIVA Audio. "With high quality of sound and the Alexa Voice Service, the RIVA speakers will deliver the ultimate Alexa experience to Indian homes and lifestyle.”

Libre Wireless is a leading voice-enabled audio and IoT technology solution provider that is making it easier for device makers to integrate with the Alexa Voice Service. Their broad range of LibreSync platform solutions services include complete turnkey hardware and software, SDK customisation, complete far field voice and RF/WIFi system characterisation, along with design services for embedded wireless applications. “We’re proud to be one of the first systems integrators in India to support the Alexa Voice Service,” said Hooman Kashef, Chief Executive Officer of Libre Wireless Technologies. “We’re looking forward to working with OEMs and hardware makers to make it easier for them to integrate Alexa through AVS and our complete system solutions.”

Developers can start building an AVS prototype today, and can sign up for the developer preview to be notified when AVS will be widely available for customers in India here.