Amazon is working on a new way to deliver information to owners of devices powered by their Alexa AI by adding a notifications feature to Alexa skills. Amazon already made notifications available via Amazon Shopping and a few limited skills. The expansion of the developer preview program will make it possible for greater testing to take place and for developers to get an early jump on adding this new feature to their apps that make use of Alexa skills.
For developers that add the notification function to their Alexa skills, they can alert users to new notifications via a sound and an on-device indicator. For devices like an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot the visual indicator is achieved using the LED while on-screen notifications will be used on hardware like the Echo Show or devices like smartphones that run Alexa.
When a user notes they have a notification waiting, they can just issue a voice command like “Alexa, what did I miss?” or “Alexa, read my notifications.”
To help users not be overwhelmed by notifications, Amazon is having the feature built as an opt-in per skill so they can choose what to be alerted about. In addition, users will be able to suppress notifications via the Do Not Disturb mode.
As Amazon expands the Developer Preview, they have issued some guidelines for developers as to what they think makes a good notification scheme:
- notifications should be transaction-based or personalized to a user
- notifications cannot contain advertising or promotional messages
- notifications should be used “sparingly” to prevent users from tuning them out or even becoming annoyed by them.
Amazon has setup a short survey to accept applications from developers who think a notification added to their app’s skills would be a good addition to the Alexa ecosystem. Amazon expects to rollout notifications as a feature for all developers to be able to use in the near future once testing is done.