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First office hours chat with Dave Isbitski

I called into the first weekly chat that Dave did, and I'm really happy with the setup. He was super open to all sorts of questions, and very up-front with a lot of answers that I expected him to keep wrapped up more tightly. A few takeaways, for anyone who didn't get to call in: -While he can't really talk about what is and isn't on the roadmap, reading between the lines it sounds like support for different card types is coming. -He did mention that he expects the certification process to improve significantly/rapidly, to the extent that some of the compromise solutions we've talked about (e.g. allowing slots to change without recert) wouldn't even be necessary. -He was surprisingly open to the suggestion of something like the simulator that takes audio and gives us the sample JSON that would be triggered from it. -In terms of a cross-skill user id, his suggestion was basically "use account linking". I think we have some arguing to do there, still, to make the case that it's needed. -He settled the debate - the vast majority of the Alexa team is in Seattle (although he's not). We'll see how the more targeted sessions go - this one was sort of a free-for-all - but I found it incredibly useful. It was also interesting to hear the sorts of problems other people were trying to solve. For some reason, there are a ton of people trying to use a single utterance to capture the entirety of a voice input of arbitrary length and type.
alexa skills kit
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Steve A avatar image
Steve A answered
Any chatter about when there will actually be a skills store (i.e., a place where people can buy things.) My impression was that this was coming in the not too distant future... Steve
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Galactoise answered
I think he was answering a question along those lines when I first joined the call, but his answer was more along the lines of "here's how some people are monetizing now", not "here's what's coming". I didn't ask any of the meta stuff (skill reviews, skill store, etc), because the topic was theoretically supposed to be about skills kit stuff (although, like I mentioned it ended up being broadly about a variety of things).
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jjaquinta avatar image
jjaquinta answered
>his answer was more along the lines of "here's how some people are monetizing now" And how did he say people were monetizing now?
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Galactoise avatar image
Galactoise answered
Well, I missed the beginning of the answer, but it was essentially "they're doing it on their own by driving traffic to things that aren't their Alexa skills".
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t3sb avatar image
t3sb answered
I too was pleased with Dave's helpfulness, openness, and willingness to address all questions. When it appeared that the technical inquiries were winding down, I asked several questions that I guessed were at the borderline of what he would be able to brief, and he fielded them all productively and with good cheer. I was encouraged by his openness to the idea of offering an Alexa text input API for use in special applications like access by the non-verbal. (I work in assistive technology.) Better cards with clickable links will open up some new, albeit often modest, monetization options for news, content, and help sites like April's LoveMyEcho ... maybe at least enough cover costs for Lambda, Dynamo, and/or S3. I also asked about the potential a webcast for the Alexa Smart Home talks in Seattle on this Thursday evening, but my question was hurried and not well formed. I had a subsequent Twitter interaction using a better formed inquiry to Amazon's Charlie Kindel, and his reply was: "working on it!"
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April L. Hamilton avatar image
April L. Hamilton answered
@Steve A Whenever I've raised the possibility of monetization or a skills store with an Amazonian, he/she has gracefully redirected the conversation. This leads me to think it's not on the front burner, and won't be anytime soon.
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Steve A avatar image
Steve A answered
Well, I hope it's not true. I had been lead to believe otherwise by an Amazonian, that it was coming soon. But that was a couple months ago. I guess we'll know for sure when/if it happens. Steve
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Galactoise avatar image
Galactoise answered
> Better cards with clickable links will open up some > new, albeit often modest, monetization options for > news, content, and help sites like April's LoveMyEcho > ... maybe at least enough cover costs for Lambda, > Dynamo, and/or S3. It turns out they actually have other card types built...on the way out. As part of an experiment a few weeks ago my team and I spent some time watching the network traffic from the Alexa app, hoping to uncover hidden functionality (like how we were able to find extra wake words). What we found was that there are couple extra types of cards that the Alexa app can handle - SportsCard and StandardCard (not to be confused with SimpleCard). Using our debugging utility we then tried to set it up to sneak these cards in via a request, but we couldn't figure out any way to do that. Not surprising, since the output cards' json is much more complex, which implies that they're not sharing POJOs. > I also asked about the potential a webcast for the > Alexa Smart Home talks in Seattle on this Thursday > evening, but my question was hurried and not well > formed. I had a subsequent Twitter interaction using > a better formed inquiry to Amazon's Charlie Kindel, > and his reply was: "working on it!" I'll be at that event. If there's no stream, I'll give a rundown afterwards of anything interesting.
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t3sb avatar image
t3sb answered
Thanks for posting the hints from debugging. Cards of all types will be more interesting if/when the Alexa app can load faster..
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jjaquinta answered
>it was essentially "they're doing it on their own by driving traffic to things that aren't their Alexa skills". Snort. Speaking of which, I finally got my Merch by Amazon account approved and ran up some Starlanes T-shirts! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BURCH20 I'm not going to get reliable statistics on my in-skill advertising until next week. But the more potential revenue streams to explore the better.
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