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Building Alexa Skill with Name Free Interaction (NFI) Toolkit   

Name-free interaction (NFI) aims to make it easier for customers to find and use skills without having to remember and say the skill’s invocation name. Upon receiving a customer request, Alexa will use keywords, skill description, and categories to get relevant skills from Skills Store – for instance, when customers say things like “Alexa, play Hollywood trivia,” Alexa will enable and start an appropriate game.

Would you like your skills to be available via NFI? The NFI toolkit allows you to provide Alexa with additional signals about common requests your skill(s) can handle, so that your skill(s) can be eligible for name-free interaction as well.

Currently, name-free interaction is a preview available only upon request, and you can sign up for the preview here.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Your Alexa skill must be live in an NFI-supported locale, with the preferred marketplace and primary language set to an NFI-supported locale.
  2. Your skill must not be child-directed.

The team conducting NFI selection does so on a rolling basis, depending upon skill performance and customer engagement metrics.

Once your application is accepted, the team will contact you on the next steps broadly classified as:

1. Defining the NFI container in your interaction model: Inside the NFI container you define launch phrases, or utterances, that customers might use to launch your skill. You may also identify which intents you want Alexa to consider for name-free interactions. Always use natural intents, which a customer is likely to utter or say for example, if a customer wants to start trip planning, or would like to hear a bus or a train schedule.

Good Example:

“Help me plan a trip” or “plan my commute”

Please be sure to avoid any unnatural intents for NFI which customer use in rare scenarios.

2. CanFulfillIntentRequest(CFIR) is a highly recommended interface that helps to ensure that Alexa only routes customer requests that are a good match for your skill given the context of a customer at runtime, or when they use your skill. It can reduce false positives derived from your NFI container. For example, in Leo’s Trip Planning Skill, you identified the "get train schedule" intent for NFI. However, let’s assume Leo’s Trip Planner Skill focuses on schedules for a geographical area, like Southern California. CFIR helps you signal situations to Alexa in which your skill wouldn't be a good match for getting a train schedule - for instance if the customer asks for train schedules to Baton Rouge.

3. NFI Process Completion: By triggering a build, you will receive new notifications or error messages confirming the status of your skill and the NFI models. After a successful build, you can test your skill in isolation with name-free requests, and the simulator will attempt to match the name-free request to the relevant intent as defined by the interaction model. Once testing and iteration is complete, you can submit your skill for certification.

Note: Your updated skill will be ready for usage right away, but it can take up to 30 days for Alexa to begin considering your skill in the name-free scenarios you indicated in your NFI container.

Two Ways NFI can be built:

  1. Configuring up to five suggested launch phrases, which customer might use to launch your skill.
  2. Identifying specific intents from your interaction model that are good candidates to handle name-free requests.

Locale Availability of the NFI toolkit

It is available for preview for English language skills in the US, UK, and IN.

Tools Included

The NFI toolkit includes new authoring tools within the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) Command Line Interface (CLI) and Skill Management APIs (SMAPI). Skills using the NFI toolkit will work with existing publishing tools and processes along with adherence to additional validations and policies that ensure customers get the best responses and highest-quality experiences.

You can find more information about Name-free Interactions and high level overview and here. And if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

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Seema contributed to this article