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đź“° News and Stories

Amazon Polly Voices in Alexa Skills Now Generally Available: Amazon announced the general availability of Amazon Polly voices in the Alexa Skills Kit. Now you can use 27 different Amazon Polly voices to make your Alexa skills more engaging for customers. You can use the voices in your skills for free in all locales supported by Alexa. Using Amazon Polly, you can choose a different voice for any utterance by using the Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) and specifying an Amazon Polly voice using the “voice name” tag and the “lang” tag (if you need a language other than the default language for the skill).

Alexa Voice Service Launches for Italy and Spain with Sonos, Bose, Jabra, and Many More Announcing Alexa Built-in Devices: Amazon is launching updates to the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) that make it possible for device makers to bring localized Alexa experiences to customers in Italy and Spain. In the coming days, device makers will be able to access the Italian and Spanish language models in the cloud using the AVS API and SDK, adding support for multiple languages and localized content to their Alexa built-in products. This launch follows up on the June 2018 announcement that Alexa is coming soon for Italy and Spain.

Cuida Health Launches LiSA, a Voice-Based Social Wellness App for Seniors: Cuida Health’s mission is to adapt and develop voice technology specifically to improve the social wellness of older adults. The company’s first product is LiSA, a “voice-activated wellness social platform” which aims to improve the day-to-day lives of seniors. LiSA is available on both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Like other digital assistants, LiSA allows users to send and receive texts and emails, check their calendars, search for activities and more.

Gain Insight Into Your Skill’s Lifecycle with Skill Enablement and Account Linking Metrics: Amazon added skill activation metrics to the Analytics tab on the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) Developer Console. Skill activation metrics, including details about skill enablement and account linking, help you gain insights into your skill’s lifecycle, so you can quickly diagnose and correct skill activation errors that might cause customer friction with your skill. Following skill actiovation metrics are available: User Enablements, Total Account Linking Users, Total Account Linking Events, Account Linking Completion Rate, Account Linking Initiations Per User.

Amazon Adds Voice Ratings for Alexa Skills: Amazon is rolling out a new Voice Ratings feature that offers Alexa skill users the opportunity to submit a star rating by voice after they finish using a select number of skills. Today, the only way to submit a star rating for most skills is to go into the Alexa skill store in the mobile app or online, search for the skill and then manually enter the star rating and comments. This process is incongruous with the way most people utilize smart speakers and their Alexa skills.

đź““ Tutorials and Opinions

5 Ways to Build a Better Interaction Model for Your Alexa Skill and Improve Customer Engagement: Your skill’s interaction model is not only the backbone of your skill for supporting the customer experience—it’s also your skill’s entire skeletal system. It drives your skill’s ability to provide customers with relevant responses to their requests. Five simple steps to improve your model: 1. Write Robust Sample Utterances to Capture a Variety of Customer Requests, 2. Ensure That Example Phrases Will Work Consistently, 3. Avoid Overlapping Sample Utterances in Different Intents, 4. Check Your Sample Utterances and Slot Values for Proper Tokenization 5. Avoid Starting Your Sample Utterances with Connecting Words.

Was This the Right Time for Facebook to Debut Its Portal Video Device?: Under intense scrutiny over privacy and its handling of user data, Facebook apparently believes people will welcome a Facebook device, complete with a camera that follows people around the room, into their homes.

📆 Upcoming Events

Alexa Sessions You Won’t Want to Miss at AWS re:Invent 2018 (Las Vegas, November 26-30): This year, we will have over 50 Alexa technical sessions, hands-on workshops, and interactive chalk talks to help attendees learn to design voice experiences and dive deep into the technology behind the Alexa Skills Kit, Alexa Voice Service, and Alexa smart home. You’ll hear from senior evangelists, product leaders, and engineers, and learn best practices from Alexa developers.AMIT JOTWANI