Developers can now use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) to build new skills and capabilities for customers in Canada
Canadian developers are building skills for Alexa, including Air Canada, TD Bank, TELUS, CBC, The Weather Network, and ecobee
Global developers are bringing more than 10,000 skills to customers in Canada this year including Philips Hue, TED Talks, Uber, and more
Starting today, hardware manufacturers can begin developing Alexa-enabled products for Canadian customers with the Alexa Voice Service (AVS)
SEATTLE, WA, Nov. 15, 2017 /CNW/ - Amazon today announced the expansion of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), enabling developers around the world to build voice experiences for Alexa customers in Canada.
"Our philosophy from day one was to make it as easy as possible for developers to create voice experiences with Alexa that reach customers in a totally new way," said Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa. "Tens of thousands of developers are already building innovative Alexa skills and Alexa-enabled products. We are excited to expand our tools to enable developers around the world to reach Alexa customers in Canada."
Alexa Skills Kit (ASK): Add Capabilities and Skills to Alexa
The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create skills, or capabilities, for Alexa. With ASK, designers, developers, and brands can build engaging skills and reach millions of customers in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, India and now Canada. Developers don't need to have a background in natural language understanding or speech recognition to build an Alexa skill. From daily news updates, to interactive games, to smart-home integrations, developers from Canada and all over the world are creating voice-first experiences with Alexa.
Build Skills with Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Whether it's computing power, database storage, or content delivery, AWS has a wide range of services to help developers build sophisticated applications with increased flexibility, scalability, and reliability. The easiest way for Alexa skill developers to connect their skill to the cloud is to use AWS Lambda, an innovative compute service that runs code only when needed and scales automatically, so there is no need to provision or continuously run servers. Developers can also enhance and scale skills using additional AWS offerings such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon CloudFront.
Developer Response — Tens of Thousands of Developers Around the World Building Skills
Developers can now use the Alexa Skills Kit to build skills for customers in Canada—here's what they are saying:
Air Canada (AC) is excited to launch its first skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. Air Canada is leveraging the Alexa service to enable Air Canada customers to get information instantly, like the status of their flight, ticket prices, and answers to common questions. "Advances in innovative and new technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing have great promise to deliver more convenience for our customers," said Mark Nasr, Vice President of Loyalty and eCommerce at Air Canada, "and we're thrilled to launch this capability so that customers across Canada can access AC services quickly and simply, using their voice."
Using the Alexa Skills Kit, TD Bank has built a skill which allows its Canadian customers to ask Alexa for information about TD products and services, locations of TD branches, and even exchange rates. "We're thrilled to be working with Amazon to bring voice interaction to our customers alongside the launch of Alexa for Canada," said Rizwan Khalfan, Chief Digital and Payments Officer for TD. "We're focused on enabling customers to bank when, where, and how they prefer, through personalized connected experiences. Voice interaction supports this vision and takes us another step forward as we develop new ways to simplify our customers' lives through smart innovations that connect our customers with what matters most to them."
TELUS, Canada's fastest growing telecommunications company, used the Alexa Skills Kit to build a skill allowing their customers to ask Alexa to make calls through their mobile phone, check billing information, data usage, and add new data or travel options. "Innovations like Amazon Alexa and its voice capabilities play an important role as we deliver on our customers first commitment and help our customers connect with the information they need most," said Robert Currie, Vice President of Mobile Devices at TELUS. "TELUS customers can also take advantage of Alexa to check in on their TELUS services quickly and easily with a simple voice prompt."
CBC, Canada's Public Broadcaster, will provide Flash Briefings including CBC News: The World This Hour (updated hourly) and CBC News: Local News, which will provide audiences with news from 13 regions across Canada updated throughout the day. In addition, CBC will soon introduce a custom skill which will provide on-demand access to hourly updates from CBC News as well as 30 regional streams from CBC Radio One. "We are always looking for innovative ways to bring stories to Canadians, and Alexa makes it easier than ever for our audiences to connect with us," said Lauris Apse, Senior Director, Digital Products, CBC.
The Weather Network is Canada's trusted source for local weather updates. Alexa customers can now ask The Weather Network skill for detailed forecasts, hyper-local weather, and the latest alerts and warnings from across Canada. "We want to be where our consumers need us and with the Alexa Skills Kit we are able to bring The Weather Network's accurate weather information to consumers when it really matters," said Naomi Lipowski, Director, Pelmorex Innovation Centre at The Weather Network. "At any time, consumers can simply say, 'Alexa, ask The Weather Network, how's the weather?' and get the information they need to plan their day and stay safe."
Smart lighting system Philips Hue is working with Amazon Alexa to bring a feature-rich, voice-controlled lighting experience to customers in Canada. "We think that voice control of Philips Hue is a magical experience for customers," said Michael Gentile, market leader Canada at Philips Lighting. "Alexa and Philips Hue make smart home technology simple, accessible, and easy to use. That's why we're so excited for customers in Canada to get started with Philips Hue voice control and Alexa in their homes."
With ASK, customers in Canada will be able to use Logitech's popular Harmony smart remotes with Alexa. Logitech's Harmony skill for Alexa lets customers with a Harmony hub-based remote ask to change the channel, pause shows, turn up the volume, turn on or off the TV, and more. "We're thrilled to bring our Harmony skill for Alexa to Canada," said Rory Dooley, head of Logitech Smart Home. "We think using just your voice to play or pause your favorite show, raise or lower the volume, and more, is a truly enjoyable experience."
We invite developers to join the Alexa team at upcoming workshops, webinars, and other in-person events to learn about building Alexa skills. Get started at: https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-skills-kit/.
Alexa Voice Service (AVS): Integrate Alexa into Any Connected Product
The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) enables developers to integrate Alexa directly into their products, bringing the convenience of voice control to any connected device. AVS provides developers with access to a suite of resources to quickly and easily build Alexa-enabled products, including APIs, hardware development kits, software development kits, and documentation. Through AVS, device makers can add a new intelligent interface to their products and offer customers access to a growing number of Alexa features, smart home integrations, and skills. Starting today, hardware manufacturers can begin developing Alexa-enabled products for Canadian customers with the Alexa Voice Service.
Developer Response – Now Even More Devices With Alexa
Developers have already integrated Alexa into a variety of devices including mobile phones, wearables, smart home devices, and speakers. Tens of thousands of developers are taking advantage of AVS to voice-enable their products. Hardware makers are already planning voice-driven experiences for customers in Canada—here's what those developers are saying:
Toronto-based ecobee today launched its next-generation smart thermostat ecobee4 with Amazon Alexa and far-field voice recognition in Canada. Customers can also enable the ecobee skill for Alexa to control an existing ecobee thermostat. "As a proud Canadian company, it is an exciting milestone for us to offer ecobee4 to Canadians with the launch of Amazon Alexa across the country," said ecobee President and CEO, Stuart Lombard. "We are committed to building technology that makes customers' lives simpler and better. Technology that allows our customers to focus on the things that matter – their families and moments they share. With ecobee4, and soon the smart light switch, voice recognition will make for an even easier, seamless smart home experience so our customers can get back to enjoying what matters most."
Ultimate Ears is known for its portable, wireless speakers with amazing 360-degree sound, and Amazon Alexa is integrated into their newest speakers, BLAST and MEGABLAST. "Ultimate Ears BLAST and MEGABLAST bring Alexa and music together in a portable, waterproof, ready-for-anything design," said Charlotte Johs, general manager of Ultimate Ears. "Customers in Canada can take these speakers and Alexa anywhere, with up to 12 to 16 hours battery life and far-field, hands-free, voice control with Alexa when connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot."
Toronto-based FABRIQ delivers high quality, affordable devices for the smart home. It is bringing its popular Chorus multi-room speakers with Amazon Alexa to customers in Canada. "The Chorus speaker with Alexa delivers excellent audio, multi-room capability, voice functionality, and affordability," said Jordon Sansom, Director of Marketing, FABRIQ. "We're excited to bring FABRIQ home so Canadians can experience Alexa for themselves."
Developers can start building with AVS for customers in Canada today. To learn more and get started visit: https://developer.amazon.com/alexa-voice-service/international/.
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