Amazon has been making consistent moves to convince professionals to start developing for Alexa for a while now, and the latest such move, announced Wednesday, gives developers full access to Lex, the powerful conversational technology behind Alexa's ability to understand and obey voice commands, as well as provide feedback to users. Lex has been in a preview state since 2016, but can now be accessed by any developer who wants to give it a try. Lex being public not only gives developers access to a huge predefined library of user inputs and ways to process them, but it all runs on Amazon's own servers, meaning that developers can access it through the cloud rather than having to implement the entire stack into their own app. The intention is to give developers a predefined framework to use as a base for creating chat bots for almost any purpose, with the goal of driving growth in the field of command-based automation.
In order to make things as easy and scalable as possible, Amazon will be charging developers on a per-query basis. This means that smaller players can experiment with Lex for a relatively low price, while major developers can invest more resources and bring Alexa's backend to a larger audience. Lex can be used to create chatbots like the ones found in Facebook Messenger and Google Allo, or voice assistants like Alexa and Cortana, among other things. Because it's an entire framework meant to analyze and process user input, savvy developers could theoretically put it to almost any use that involves verbal user input in some form.
According to Amazon's chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, the goal here is for Amazon's influence to spread in the world of voice-controlled computer interfaces, helping them get to the top of that field and get their technology into as many consumer devices as possible. The cloud-based approach for giving developers access to Lex is likely a step in the right direction; since the program is running remotely on Amazon's servers, each developer that jumps on board will be feeding it more data through their own efforts and the user input that their creations generate.