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📰 News and Stories

Amazon Announces 80,000 Alexa Skills Worldwide and Jeff Bezos Earnings Release Quote Focuses Solely on Alexa Momentum: Amazon just closed its biggest quarter and year in history with more than $72 billion in quarterly revenue and $233 billion for all of 2018. However, CEO Jeff Bezos’ quote focused on one topic only: Alexa. There are no other quotes from Bezos or any other company spokesperson. One hundred and forty-two words comprised the entire commentary and it is 100% focused on Alexa.

The BBC's first year in Voice: The corporation had decided to launch services for an exciting new platform that threatened to disrupt the medium of radio forever. They’d done this, despite the fact that only 20,000 households had the relevant devices to access these services. Result? 18 million news summaries and 265 million streams

Google adds voice input and spoken results to mobile web search: Google has added a microphone to the Google.com search field on Android phones to enable mobile web voice search. It’s an interesting move given that users could already do voice search on the mobile web, with the Android keyboard microphone.

Amazon has 10,000 employees dedicated to Alexa — here are some of the areas they're working on: Back in November, Amazon's head of devices, Dave Limp, said that 10,000 of Amazon's employees worked on the company's Alexa smart assistant and the Echo products in which it lives.
Avery Hartmans

Amazon Upgrades Alexa With Newscaster Voice: If you ask Alexa to read out the latest news from today, her voice will have a variation triggered that makes her sound more like a professional newscaster. It's a voice that's much closer to what you'd expect to hear on TV or the radio.

📓 Tutorials and Opinions

When it comes to voice assistant apps, writing IS design: In most digital organisations I’ve encountered, writers are highly regarded. Yet in product design they will often join the process next to last: to replace the ‘lorem ipsum’ assuming that what was said mattered, but maybe not as much as where it was said and in what colour. Whether my experience applies everywhere or whether this practice is effective is up for a — presumably juicy — debate, but I can say with confidence that it’s not a practice that will perform well in voice design. That’s because when it comes to voice, creative writing largely IS the design.

Creating Voice Applications - From Novice to Professional: In this course we're making You the Voice Developer! We've built an award winning free platform for building Alexa Skills and Google Actions - https://bottalk.de. If you never programmed before, or coming from the visual skill builders - like Storyline - this course is for you.If you want to go beyond simple stupid Alexa skills - and build professional Voice Applications - this course is for you.

Build for Memory: Keep Track of Important Information When Designing Conversational Alexa Skills:
Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you opened up and told them something very important to you? Instead of listening intently, they either didn't pay attention or completely forgot what you said. It's frustrating, isn't it? One often overlooked component of conversation is memory. As conversational partners converse, the information they exchange is committed to their individual memories that they can call upon during the present and future conversations. One way to make your Alexa skills more conversational, personal, and relatable is to add a little bit of memory and personalization to your voice experience.

Hear It from a Skill Builder: 3 Tips for Building a Compelling Monetized Skill: Since I started building Alexa skills three years ago, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create skill content that keeps customer coming back. I’ve also used in-skill purchasing (ISP) to build premium content, which has helped me grow my voice business. Over the past six months, I’ve made many updates and optimizations to the ISP experience in my skills, and I’ve been excited to see conversion rates and revenue increase steadily each month as a result.

📆  Events

Amazon's "What's New" webinar on Feb 6th at 10am PT!: The webinar will cover: Overview of recently released ASK features, Guidance on how to leverage these features to build or update Alexa skills, Live coding to showcase these features in action.