Amazon expands Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service to India, allowing developers to build capabilities for Indian consumers

Amazon has announced the expansion of Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Service (AVS) to India, allowing developers to build new skills and capabilities for Indian consumers, and allowing hardware manufacturers to start developing products for the Indian market. The announcement comes a few days after Amazon launched its Alexa powered smart speakers Echo, Echo Plus and Echo Dot in India.

Image: Amazon

Image: Amazon

Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa said, "Our philosophy from day one was to make it as easy as possible for developers to create voice experiences with Alexa and reach customers in a totally new way. Tens of thousands of developers are already building innovative Alexa skills and Alexa-enabled products. We are excited to expand our tools to enable developers around the world to reach Alexa customers in India."

There are thousands of developers building skills for Alexa across various sectors including Travel, Restaurant booking, Recipes, Sports, Entertainment, News, Education, Homes Services and Smart Home devices. This will allow users in India to use voice commands to simplify their lives, as well as command and control smart home devices. Indian users will be able to book tables at restaurants, control LED lights at their homes, stream music, access news, get a briefing on sports scores, plan for a vacation and more. Often, this is enabled through familiar applications that consumers are already using on their smartphones.

Users will be able to book Ola and Uber rides through Alexa in India. Rajiv Thondanoor, Vice President of Product Management at Ola said "As a leader in smart urban transportation, Ola is excited to work with Amazon to bring the power of voice for our customers. Just ask Alexa to book an Ola cab and see one arrive at your location." Madhu Kannan, Senior Director, Business Development, Uber India and Emerging Markets said, "At Uber, we’re constantly innovating and finding new ways to enhance the ride experience. Being able to simply ask Alexa to book an Uber ride takes convenience to a new level and we’re excited to bring this functionality to our riders in India."

Alexa will allow users to use a voice interface to reserve tables at a restaurant or place orders. One of the partners is Zomato. Pramod Rao - Global Head - Content, Zomato said, "Our motto at Zomato is to make the discovery of great meals easy and accessible for all our users. Through the Zomato skill, users can now ask Alexa to recommend nearby restaurants to dine out, book a table, or even place an order for home delivery using just their voice. It’s another way we’re making the experience dining out or ordering in more convenient and fun for our customers."

The announcement also means that Indian homes will start getting much smarter. Syska has connected their Syska Rainbow LED WiFi Bulbs  to Alexa. Gurumukh Uttamchandani, Executive Director at Syska said, "At Syska, we aim to make the smart home accessible to everyone. Now customers can simply ask Alexa to turn on the bedroom light, or brighten the kitchen light and their SYSKA lights will respond instantly. We can’t wait to see the reaction from customers."

Indian users will be able to stream the 37 million song library of Saavn through Alexa, as well as access the curated playlists and custom radio stations. said Jaikaran Sawhny, VP of Product at Saavn said, "The same way you would ask a friend to play your favourite song, the Saavn skill for Alexa gives you a natural way to access an extensive music catalogue. We're honored to work with Amazon – our relationship enables us to provide a seamless experience to our listeners instantly. All of Saavn’s songs are yours. Just ask Alexa."

ASK is a collection of free APIs that allow developers to add more capabilities to Amazon's intelligent assistant, Alexa. The regions covered by ASK so far were UK, US and Germany. When the service launches for customers in India later this month, over 10,000 skills will be available, including those from Uber, The Wall Street Journal, Philips, Reuters and Ted Talks. There is no coding experience necessary for building voice capabilities on the Alexa platform. Developers can also use Amazon Web Services (AWS) for computing, database storage and content delivery, the easiest way to do this is through the AWS Lambda service.

Alexa Voice Service allows hardware manufacturers to integrate Amazon's voice assistant into their own products. This can include wireless speakers, smart home hubs, mobile phones and wearables. Manufacturers can start building AVS prototypes from today, and can sign up for a notification when AVS will be widely available to customers in India. The HTC U11, which launched in July this year has access to Alexa. Onkyo, BPL, Harman, boAt, Riva and Anker are some of the manufacturers that have plans to introduce products with Alexa in India. Some of these devices should be available as early as 2018.

 


Published Date: Oct 10, 2017 10:14 pm | Updated Date: Oct 10, 2017 10:54 pm