Alexa is about to get a lot smarter thanks to hundreds of new commands

alexa skills development improvements dtdeals amazon echo dot
Alexa will soon have a better idea of what you’re asking and won’t need to ask you as many clarifying questions to provide a response. That’s because Amazon is making a concerted push to expand the conversational and response skills available for its Alexa voice assistant, according to Venture Beat.

Alexa originally could manage 15 command categories called “intents,” which are used with voice inquiries. Common intents include stop, cancel, help, yes, and no. Alexa skills programming also includes “slots,” which are similar to data types. Examples of slots include date, number, city, and time. Depending on the type of question or request, Amazon also enriches intents, so if a user asks about the weather, for example, Alexa knows about various weather factors and attributes, as well as the most common ways users ask about the weather.

The Alexa Skills Marketplace, where users can locate, download, and activate skills, originally had about 100 skills. That number has now grown to more than 5,000. Skills are similar to mobile apps, but they are built specifically for voice interchange with Alexa, use Alexa’s command set and vocabulary, and relate to an outcome from or controlled by Alexa. The outcome could be telling a joke, setting an alarm, dimming Alexa-compatible smart lights, adding an appointment to your calendar, giving a local weather report, and more.

During the next few weeks, Amazon plans to add hundreds of new commands, slots, and intents to the Alexa Skills Kit, initially for use in the U.S. only. The Alexa Skills Kit contains tools developers use to create skills. By including new slots and intents, Amazon will simplify skill building and save time for developers.

In the interest of improving how Alexa understands and responds to user requests, Amazon has been tracking how questions are asked in order to improve the voice assistant’s natural language understanding. The goal is to make it easier for users to obtain an appropriate response or action from Alexa without needing to use what feels to them like “unnatural language” when shaping requests.

Making it easier to build Alexa skills while at the same time increasing Alexa’s ability to respond to users’ usual language when they make requests or inquiries will accelerate both the number of available skills and people who want to utilize them.

Buy on Amazon

Smart Home

Softly spoken interactions with Alexa now possible with new Whisper Mode

Amazon's Whisper Mode for Alexa has gone live, so now you can talk more softly to Alexa and it'll respond in kind. The feature will most likely come in handy around napping babies or for bed partners you don't want to wake.
Smart Home

Amazon has an even dozen new smart devices. Here’s how to order

Amazon's hardware announcement meant a whole bunch of new Amazon Alexa gadgets. From a microwave to stereo equipment, here is the complete list of devices that were announced, as well as reviews for some.
Smart Home

Amazon Echo vs. Echo Plus: Which should you get?

If you're trying to choose between the Amazon Echo or the Echo Plus, then this guide is for you. It compares the two Alexa-enabled speakers in cost, size, looks, functionality, and more.
Smart Home

Publish a new Alexa skill this month and Amazon will give you an Echo Dot

Amazon' Alexa group announced a promotion encouraging new developers to publish a new Alexa skill in any country First-time developers who publish a new an Alexa skill prior to midnight October 31, 2018, will get a free Echo Dot.
Smart Home

Second-gen vs. third-gen Echo Dot: What’s the difference?

Amazon's third-generation Echo Dot was just released. Is it worth upgrading your second-generation Echo Dot? Here, we take a closer look at the two devices to see how much Amazon has improved its flagship Alexa voice assistant smart…
Smart Home

Vector, the engaging Alexa-like robot, is ready to roam around your home

Anyone who has ever watched Short Circuit or WALL-E has surely dreamed about having a robot buddy come live with them. Finally, that dream is now a reality. It's name is Vector, and it's available now.
Smart Home

Brew it fast, hot, and flavorful with our favorite coffee makers

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

Keep an eye on your kingdom with the best home security cameras

When it comes to the best home security cameras, the choice often comes down to the one that simply knows how to stay out of your way. Here are some of our favorites, both indoor and outdoor.
Deals

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out 12 great vacuum cleaner deals available on Amazon right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Smart Home

Here’s everything you need to know about Amazon Prime Pantry

The marvels of the Internet have made it possible to do all your shopping from the comfort of your living room. Amazon Prime Pantry allows you to buy groceries and household items online. Here's more info about the service.
Deals

Save energy and money with a $45 discount on the Nest smart thermostat

If you were looking for a smart thermostat, Amazon is offering up to $45 in savings on the popular Nest Learning Thermostat. Use stainless steel thermostat to the keep your home warm and cozy this fall and save energy by scheduling the…
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Product Review

Philip Hue’s versatile outdoor light strip makes drab yards, holiday decor dazzle

Philips Hue fans can at last enjoy the brilliance of this weatherproof light strip, which offers simple, versatile positioning, a rich selection of 16 million color options, and bright, vibrant illumination.