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📰 News and Stories

Remind Customers of Important Tasks or Events with the Reminders API: Reminders have become an important part of our daily routines for various types of events and tasks. Now you can offer reminders to customers using your Alexa skills, and make your skills more engaging for customers. KAYAK skill is a great example of providing active assistance and increased value to customers with Reminders API. “The Reminders API allows us to immediately alert users when a flight they tracked has landed. Since flight arrival times can change, we now have the flexibility to send a reminder at the right time, which adds even more value to the experience,” says Matthias Keller, chief scientist at KAYAK.

U.S. Smart Speaker Users Rise to 57 Million: A September 2018 survey by Voicebot.ai of over 1,000 U.S. adults found that 57.8 million own at least one smart speaker. That is 23% of U.S. adults and reflects 22% growth since January 2018. This is significant in part because the rate of smart speaker adoption does not appear to be slowing much even as the user base grows. And, this rise in smart speaker users is prior to the fourth quarter holiday shopping season when more than 50% of annual devices sales have taken place the past two years.

Alexa Fund Invests in German Smart Thermostat, tado°: Last week, Amazon announced the Alexa Fund's investment in tado°, a Munich-based smart thermostat and climate control company that focuses primarily on comfort control systems for apartments and households in Europe. We've known tado° because of its early embrace of Alexa in the UK and Germany. Over the last several years, the company has worked closely with our Alexa teams to launch smart home capabilities that work with the thermostats and smart radiator regulators that tado° sells throughout Europe.

Now Available: Alexa Presentation Language (Public Beta) for Multimodal Experiences: Amazon announced the public beta of the Alexa Presentation Language (APL), following up on the APL public preview announcement from last month. This new design language allows you to build interactive, multimodal Alexa skills and customize them for different Alexa-enabled devices. Starting today, you can begin designing Alexa skills using APL in all locales supported by Alexa, and test them in the Alexa Developer Console using the authoring tool and simulator.

Alexa Voice Search Update: Amazon Reduced Alexa Recommendation Errors by 12% Using a New Supervised Learning Mechanism: Amazon introduced Alexa recommendations earlier this year as a method to facilitate skill discovery. In May, Amazon introduced Canfulfillintentrequest which are keyword and phrase tags that developers can add to make their skills easier for Alexa to find when responding to generic requests by users.

📓 Tutorials and Opinions

Building Conversational Alexa Skills: How to Dynamically Elicit Slots Based on a Previous Answer Using Dialog Management: Over the past few months, I've spent a lot of time deep diving into dialog management and sharing what I've learned with the Alexa developer community. I'm often asked, "Is there away to change the slot and the question that Alexa prompts the user for next based on the previous answer?" The answer is yes!

Deploying Cross-Platform Voice Apps With BotTalk - Beginner's Guide: This guide is designed for beginners who want to get started with building their own voice user interfaces. It does not assume that you have any prior experience with creating Alexa Skills or Google Actions.

📆 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.