Amazon Launches New Features for Alexa Video Skill API

Today Amazon added three new features to the Video Skill API for Alexa. This enables subscribers of video services to search, find and consume video content more easily as they no longer have to invoke a specific skill to do so. And because Alexa already knows which services the user subscribes to, they will have instant access to the content they are looking for. The three new features are recording, launcher and state reporting, as described by an Amazon spokesperson:

  • Recording:  Enables customers to set and manage DVR recordings with their voice.
  • Launcher: Provides customers an easy way to launch apps and access commonly used menu and navigation shortcuts such as Guide, Home, DVR, and more.
  • State Reporting: Allows content providers to send state updates to reflect customers’ video playback status and enable implicitly targeted customer commands to accurately target your skill.

Alexa For Video Entertainment

These new capabilities will soon be available through skill updates from DISH, Verizon, TiVo and DIRECTV. DISH was the first TV provider to integrate with Alexa in May of last year, giving customers the ability to use any Alexa-enabled device as a voice remote. Now with the new Video Skill API features, it could be that customers can truly go remote-free. “DISH customers love the convenience that our Alexa compatibility brings to their home entertainment. With Amazon’s updates to the Video Skill API, DISH has the ability to deepen our Alexa integration and continue working toward providing our customers with a completely Hands-Free TV experience,” said Niraj Desai, DISH vice president of product management in Amazon’s announcement today.

The updated API also provides simplified logic so if a customer does have a video skill enabled, Alexa will understand simple requests like “Alexa, play Manchester by the Sea,” and know to play the movie, not tell you what awards the movie won, for example. These new features make Alexa even more valuable as an entertainment voice assistant, which is key to Amazon and Alexa integrating with more video service providers and third-party manufacturers. It also gives Amazon more of a competitive edge in this space, as Google Home has had this functionality pretty much since its launch a year and a half ago for Chromecast users and with Roku’s plans to launch its own voice assistant as part of its Roku Connect Software for OEM brands. With the competition heating up to be the only entertainment voice assistant consumers need, the remote may indeed be a thing of the past.

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