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.”