Amazon Revamps ‘Works With Alexa’ Certification Rules and Badge Design
Amazon has updated the Works With Alexa program rules with new rules and redesigned the badge that certified device makers can attach to their marketing. The changes tie smart home devices closer to Alexa, providing a minimum level of access and control for the voice assistant to earn the new badge.
Works with Alexa is pretty much what a smart home device needs to be able to do to earn the badge. The updated rules just add to what working with Alexa means. The biggest change is that using the App-to-App Account Linking feature is now mandatory. Introduced back in 2019, App-to-App Account Linking puts a button in the mobile app to link a smart device to a user’s Alexa account instead of requiring setup on the Alexa app or online, a process that Amazon said would often go unfinished. The App-to-App Account Linking streamlines the setup significantly and means users won’t have to login every time they activate the related skill.
Device makers also have to register the manufacturer and model of their devices with Alexa to make it easier for people to find the Alexa skill when asking the voice assistant directly. The other notable update for manufacturers to claim their product works with Alexa is just for video devices and mandates voice control over the video experience. Any device with video control has to allow Alexa to perform any available search, playback, or app-launching functions when asked by the user. All of the new rules for certification come into effect starting in November. The new badge design, seen on the right, is more of an aesthetic change. Any newly certified device has to use the new badge right away, but currently certified devices have until May to change the badge on digital marketing, and by March next year to replace it on any physical packaging.
“The Works with Alexa program has helped generate billions of dollars for device makers, helping increase exposure of your Alexa-connected products to the millions of customers who shop on Amazon.com every day,” Alexa senior product marketing manager Ben Grossman explained in a blog post. “The WWA program ensures your Alexa-connected devices provide a great customer experience, increasing customer awareness and confidence in your products and brand.”
Smart Home Standards
Alexa’s new rules seem like they will make any device more appealing to customers who use Alexa to run their smart home devices. Turning these features and options into requirements may just be Amazon trying to motivate the manufacturers with Alexa skills to take advantage of these tools. However, the timing is remarkable as the updated Works With Alexa program has arrived just a week after Google Assistant updated its own certification requirements with similar demands for access and voice commands. Getting certified under Google’s new system means the device has to respond with a certain level of speed and accuracy to Google Assistant commands, including a list of mandatory voice commands, and any security device like an alarm or a lock has to offer secondary verification with a PIN or follow-up confirmation before accepting a voice command. Whether the timing is coincidental or presages some bigger, universal shift in the way smart home devices are connected with voice assistants remains to be seen, but, at least for consumers, the default connection between voice assistants and smart home devices is getting tighter.