Ask Yourself These Questions
Here’s what you should ask yourself before you begin designing your voice application for Alexa, Google Assistant or Cortana.
In just a few minutes you’ll know the questions to ask yourself when designing your voice application. Here’s what you’ll learn:
See what voice technology is available today & what’s in the pipeline for tomorrow.
Understand the differences between a Static & Dynamic voice application.
Decide the best place to start and how to take your first step into voice technology.
Decide on Voice Platforms – Alexa, Google Assistant or Cortana?
Do you require Amazon Alexa support, Google Home support, or multiple? When deciding, keep in mind some voice operations are NOT cross platform. Examples include Flash briefings and geolocation services; they have different implementations which result in extra work making these features work both on Google and Amazon supported devices.
Skill Certification is required to make your voice application available for enabling, and has different requirements between Google & Amazon. NOTE: Microsoft’s Cortana is currently underdeveloped. We can support Cortana by special request.
Static vs Dynamic Voice Application
Do you need a static or dynamic voice application? What’s the difference? Well, quite a lot actually…
Static Voice App.
A static skill has predefined answers to questions. It does not access external APIs or services (e.g., geo location). It does not use account linking.
User question: “How are you today?”Static response: “I am fine.”
Dynamic Voice App.
A skill that uses external 3rd party APIs or services to get data from to build dynamic responses. Account linking falls into this category. Amazon defines dynamic as “This skill contains dynamic content, which is content that is updated real-time based on inputs from the developer.”
User question: “Is it going to rain today?”Dynamic response: find user’s location, use location to query a weather service and retrieve weather data, extract weather data and build the response “yes, there is a 30% chance of rain today”
Push notifications allow a custom skill *service* to send notifications to a user’s devices when an event happens. A notification is triggered either manually by the client or programmatically by a client’s running program.
“Notification indicators inform end users that new content is available from Alexa skills and domains. When a notification is delivered, depending on what the product is capable of, the user is notified by visual and audio indicators. For example, the product may flash a yellow LED and play an audio file, at which time a user can retrieve any pending notifications by asking, “Alexa, what did I miss?” or “Alexa, what are my notifications?” “
If your skill requires push notifications, then this is a “dynamic” skill, not static.
Enabling push notifications generally means account linking so notifications can be targeted to specific users, and not just sent globally.
Do You Need a Skill, a Flash Briefing, or Both? What’s the Difference?
What’s the difference? A lot actually…
Invocation: the user enables the skill and invokes it by: “Alexa, open skillName” or “Alexa, ask skillName when my order will be ready.”
Invocation: the user enables the flash briefing and invokes it generically by: “Alexa, what are my flash briefings?” at which time Alexa will get ALL the flash briefings (short updates) from ALL enabled flash briefing applications/shims. A flash briefing can be text or a streaming MP3.
Note: Flash briefings can NOT have oauth2 accounts associated with them. Only skills can.
Hosting Your Voice Application
Voice Applications require hosting just as any other website or mobile application. We host the skills we develop because it’s the best solution.
Other Miscellaneous Items to Consider
Languages & Voice Options
There are various languages and select male & female voices that are available for various platforms. We only support English skills at this time and will work with voice options by special request.
Geography & Privacy Laws – Where Should Your Skill Be Available?
Have you put much thought into where your voice application will be available? The United States only, the entire world, or just specific countries? When deciding where your voice application is available keep in mind that the privacy laws vary by country. By default with our Static Apps, we support English with no account linking required in all countries. With Dynamic apps we support account linking in the U.S., and by special request we can support account linking in other countries.
Do you require that your skill have login/authentication so you can give customized content or access? If so, do you have your own existing user accounts database, or do you want us to build one? If you do have your own user account database, does it have an external API that we can access? Is it enterprise ready (high availability and high load)?
What’s an Alexa-only Video Skill?
What’s an Alexa-only Smart Home Skill?
Static Voice AppsStatic Voice Apps Are Your 1st Step Into Voice Technology
- A static app consists generally of the following:
- An invocation name which is associated to your Alexa Skill or Google Action.
- A non-account linked skill (does not require user account creation or authentication)
- English-only, deployment in all countries that Google and Amazon support.
- Up to three (3) “Standard Greetings” for users when they invoke the skill.
- Up to twenty (20) User Commands / Questions & Responses.
- A “Help” Command.
Dynamic Voice AppsAdvanced Features
- Dynamic voice applications include all of the features of a static app and enhanced functionality including features such as:
- A Smart Conversational Voice Experience
- Advanced Interactions
- Logged In Users with OAuth
- Individual Push Notifications
- Dynamic Responses based on interactive API calls between your database or 3rd parties
- & Many Further Customizations
Pioneer in Voice Tech -Best of Class Enterprise SystemsPushing the Limits
- Now the fun begins. This assumes you have an existing robust API. Just some of the features we often include:
- Detailed Voice App Analytics
- Sales & Lead Generation
- Customer Retention Programs
- Order Fulfillment Systems
- Inventory Management Systems
- Pushing the limitations of voice technology – Start thinking Best of Class Voice Apps such as: FoodMonkey – Food Delivery via Alexa & Google Home, and EmailMonkey – Reading & Sending Emails Hands Free
All voice applications developed by Voice2Biz include assistance in getting the Amazon skill and/or Google action to pass certification. Alternatively, for a small extra charge, we can create the skill, with invocation name, within the Voice2Biz developer account and handle all aspects of managing the skill and interactions with Google and Amazon, including certification on behalf of the client.
As the Voice2Biz created skills are hosted with us, we automatically update your skills when Google and/or Amazon change their APIs which may impact your skill. We also support new features as they come along which we can integrate with your existing skills.
Now that you know the questions, lets discuss the answers together.
Is Alexa In-Skill Purchasing Not Yet Ready For Prime Time? We’re having a heck of a time getting a client’s Alexa skill beta tested and certified. The skill uses Amazon’s In-Skill Purchasing, or ISP. Fun time #1 - Double Charges We found a verified Amazon ISP bug...read more
The Cost to use Google's API: $15k - $75k (or more) for a 3rd Party Assessment It's a sad day for EmailMonkey and the many folks who utilize our hands free gmail reader service for Alexa & Google Assistant devices. Last week, we received an email notification from...read more
Amazon's Alexa Skill Certification - CEO Abbreviation We are generally very impressed with the Amazon Alexa system and set of developer tools that we’ve been given to service our clients. However, there are exceptions. One big Amazon bug exception that we just ran...read more