amazon-echo

Amazon Opens More Alexa Developer Support With New API

April 5, 2016 - Written By Justin Diaz

Amazon’s push into the IoT market started off as a kind of cool product with the Echo smart speaker, but once they started pushing out support for more smart home products the speaker became a much more advanced piece of technology. This was only the start of things though as Amazon opened up developer support for the Alexa Voice Service last month. Today, Amazon is expanding on that by opening developer support even further to initiate better compatibility with more types of smart home products. With this new support expansion, Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices will be able to communicate with a much wider range of smart home products that are currently on the market or will be on the market in the future.

Amazon’s new development expansion is part of the original Alexa Voice Service developer support, but it is a completely new API called the Smart Home Skill API, which Amazon states will let developers add skills to their products. For example, the Alexa software recently gained support for the Ecobee smart thermostat. The developers who manage that product could add skills to the Alexa Voice Service through the new Smart Home Skills API whenever they might add new features to the thermostat itself, allowing them to help expand the capabilities of Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices such as the Echo speaker.

While Alexa can already initiate certain tasks for various smart home products, the Smart Home Skills API will allow developers to enable new features more easily so that Alexa’s compatibility of functions goes beyond what Amazon has developed. What’s more, is that the new skills API will allow Alexa to initiate any of the newly developed abilities with simple to understand terminology and language. For example, a user could say, “Alexa, turn off the lights,” and that’s all it would take. While this is a huge step forward for Amazon’s Alexa software it’s also a huge step forward for the Internet of Things and smart home products in general. With the initial release of the Smart Home Skills API, Amazon has only made it possible to add new skills to a few different types of connected products which include lights, plugs, thermostats, and switches, and the API is already available for developers to start working with.