Amazon Rolls Out Alexa Skills Kit for U.S. Spanish, Alexa Voice Service to Support Language Later This Year
Amazon yesterday announced that the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) software development kit now includes a voice model for U.S. Spanish speakers. This means developers can now build skills for U.S. users that speak Spanish. A version of ASK was launched for Spain in June 2018 and Mexico in August. However, those solutions were only available to Spanish speakers in Spain and Mexico when Alexa formally launched later in 2018. Google Assistant began offering Spanish language localization in June 2018 for U.S., Mexico, and Spain on all Google Home devices.
While developers can now build for the U.S. Spanish language model, the Alexa skills will not be immediately available to all users. A blog post announcing the new ASK availability says,
Skills that developers create now and are certified for publication will be available for participants in the Alexa Preview program, and to all customers when Alexa launches in the US with Spanish language support later this year.
In case you are not familiar with what this means, Alexa Preview is not available to all users. You can think of this as a test period where the U.S. Spanish model will be available to a select subset of Alexa users while Amazon verifies the performance of new language model in common use and developers begin to publish skills. The preview period enables developers to have their skills certified and ready for use on the first day of general availability of the language model. This period in the past has typically lasted from 3-5 months. However, in those instances, it was always for a primary language launch in a new country and not for a second language added to an existing market. It will be interesting to see how quickly the U.S. Spanish language skill count grows as there are already many Spanish language Alexa skills in Mexico and Spain that could be modified for U.S. Spanish.
AVS with U.S. Spanish Coming Later in 2019
Alexa Voice Service (AVS), which is used by hardware makers to integrate Alexa into their devices, will also support U.S. Spanish in 2019. Access to a developer preview can be found here. Amazon says devices from Bose, Facebook, and Sony will bring devices to market this year that support the U.S. Spanish language model and Honeywell, Philips, and TP-Link will have “works with Alexa” device support. Amazon describes the way AVS supports the consumer experience by offering an example:
Ben is a German-speaking Amazon customer located in Seattle. He recently purchased a device with Alexa built-in. During the out-of-the-box experience, Ben links to his Amazon account, where he has set the U.S. as his primary marketplace. Wanting to speak with Alexa in German, Ben switches his primary language to German on the device. The setting allows Ben to speak German to Alexa, but still access local skills in the U.S.