Amazon unveiled a number of new Alexa-focused developer features as part of its annual Alexa conference — and some could substantially change the way we interact with the retailer’s smart home devices.
Designed to improve the real-world usability of Alexa-powered products such as Amazon’s Echo Dot and Echo Show lines, the updates include the ability to implement multiple voice services on select devices, a set of features to let you buy products more easily through Alexa and more frictionless Alexa device setup.
Soon, for example, you’ll be able to ask Alexa a bunch of more shopping-focused questions for products presented specifically by developers building Alexa skills, including “What are Amazon reviews?”, “How much does it cost?” or “When can it be delivered?” Why would developers do this? Some can earn commissions on the products that Amazon customers buy through the system.
Separately, Amazon announced a new software developer kit – Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) SDK for Matter (the new smart home standard supported by Amazon, Apple, Google and others) to simplify the development process for device manufacturers. Device manufacturers using the ACK SDK for Matter will also be able to take advantage of Frustration-Free Setup (FSS). FFS for Matter will allow customers to add Matter-compatible smart home devices to Alexa with a touch-free experience where devices are automatically connected to the network and setup can begin as soon as the device is turned on.
Amazon also announced a partnership with audio maker Skullcandy during its recent developer conference. The duo have teamed up to allow owners of the latest brand’s upcoming Push Active and Grind Series headphones to use the “Alexa” and “Hey Skullcandy” commands interchangeably – a partnership that bodes well for the future of multi-devices. -wizards (soon, perhaps, we can choose between using Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant on our iPhones).
These updates aren’t the first new Alexa skills to be announced in 2022, either. At this year’s annual re:Mars conference, Amazon unveiled a decidedly scary skill that gives Alexa the ability to mimic other people’s voices, and a few months later ago, the popular voice assistant learned to respond and perform actions without needing to hear the “Hey Alexa command”.
Sure, some of the recent Alexa updates might seem like superficial news, but more than 20% of all Alexa interactions in the past year involved customers engaging with a skill (an Amazon spokesperson told that “tens of billions” of skill-based actions were taken in 2021) – and we, for one, welcome any features that make our occasionally troubled relationship with Alexa a little smoother.
Amazon told us that some of these Alexa development tools, like the Alexa Shopping Kit and Alexa Skill Deals, are available to developers now. Others will be released soon.
Correction: July 20, 2022
An earlier version of this article implied that Amazon customers could log into Alexa-enabled devices without Amazon login. Information was incorrectly shared with . Amazon has since clarified that the Matter integration will make setup easier, but hasn’t specifically addressed account logins.