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AI Hardware

Amazon Will Pay Developers With the Most Engaging Alexa Skills ( 41

Amazon today announced a new program to bring revenue to developers of Alexa skills based on how much engagement their voice app is able to generate among users of Alexa-enabled devices. From a report: Amazon appears to be the first of the major tech companies with AI assistants and third-party integrations -- like Google, Samsung, Apple, and Microsoft -- with a program to compensate developers based on engagement created by their voice app. Metrics used to measure engagement of an Alexa skill include minutes of usage, new customers, customer ratings, and return visitors, an Amazon spokesperson told VentureBeat. Developers of Alexa skills in the U.S., U.K., and Germany are eligible to join. Developers with a skill active in all three countries will receive separate payments based on engagement in each country.
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Amazon Will Pay Developers With the Most Engaging Alexa Skills

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  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @12:46PM (#55026409) Homepage Journal
    I would predict that if you could get Alexa to give a good phone sex experience, they'd have the winner developer there.

    Depending on how good the app was, the length of time of engagement might be short, but I"m guessing that would be made up by increased repeat business.

    • The engagement would only be short with a bad developer. The loop should go: "oh I want you to.." *pause* "please wait while updating user profile for your new level of interaction" *pause* "sorry about that. Oh you are so strong..."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @12:48PM (#55026423)

    I submitted a skill. They strung me along for about 4 months asking for pointless tweaks while changing the acceptable encryption schemes, etc. At the end of all that they finally said "Some skills will never be accepted" and ended it there. No way to follow up.

    Quick check of the dev forums and there are plenty of similar tales. The reason why? Whatever the skill was eventually became part of core functionality, or another large company released something identical shortly thereafter. My particular skill wound up in core.

    You know, I get it. Maybe you don't want to reveal your road map. But don't string people along for months knowing you have no intention of ever approving. I've had plenty of ideas for skills since, but I'm never going near it again. Fuck those guys.

  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @12:50PM (#55026447)
    I'm calling it now. A sex chat program or something like it will actually win, but will be disqualified from the competition.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @12:50PM (#55026453)

    The voice interface, while looks good in science fiction as it is an easy way to push the plot along. However these devices such as Alexa, are often getting in my way of instant data. As someone who keep my phone silent and my PC on mute I find getting info from a keyboard, or with gestures on a good interface, is much better to get info. Plus other people don't have to hear me ask silly questions or bore listing to the answers.

    • I don't remember Apple having to pay developers to make apps for the App Store. Actually I don't remember a single cash incentive program for developers that worked. People like a platform or they don't, forcing engagement with prizes buys you very little.

    • It's all about different use cases.

      "Alexa, play songs by xyz band" is much easier than unlocking my phone, opening Spotify, searching for the band and then connecting to my speaker before actually playing the tunes.

      Likewise, "Hey Siri, wake me up at 6am" is easier than going into the app and manully configuring the alarm.

      However, looking up an actor or actress on IMDB is something more suited to a screen, allowing me to browse their previous movies at my leisure.

      I also find that any unusual words/phrases ar

    • I agree. Voice interfaces blow. They're particularly irritating on phones, though -- it's just making the problem of people using speakerphone in public even worse.

      However, the sex bot idea? Hmmm....

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      But they are great for data mining, building up voice print databases to help solve crimes, and maybe they'll actually come out with a word processor that reliably takes voice commands.

    • And if "you" are a quadraplegic? Well, there is Dragon Dictate, for when you have your laptop up and running. But what about when you are undergoing the hours of daily care it takes to keep you alive and healthy? Alexa is the only game in town -- or the best in that category, anyway.

      • The problem with designing for disabilities, is there are so many disabilities to design for. They are people who are mute, and deaf who cannot utilize the features as well. That said if you are a quadriplegic, they are still a number of pointer devices options, eye tracking, chin joystick... Which allows them to operate a computer, more efficiently then with voice interface.

  • by Graydyn Young ( 2835695 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @12:51PM (#55026475)
    This is great news for anybody who uses these voice-based devices. The app ecosystem on these devices has been an absolute sewer, because only apps with a monetization strategy get published. There is a tonne of room for some very cool little applications that use voice inside the home for quick information requests and the like. But as is, nobody is going to build those apps because they cost money to run. Not very much money, but you still need to host a service somewhere. The worst case scenario for somebody up until now who was developing an Alexa Skill was to have it blow up in popularity, and then get stuck with a large hosting bill.
  • I hate voice assistants with a passion, but unlike touchscreen desktops I do think they have a real chance of becoming useful and popular. We have enough sci-fi with talking computers that I think people already have a feel for the times where they might be more useful than a display based system. Except for Google assistant. Try calling that thing up with a sore throat, it's some beautiful negative reinforcement I tell you. That glottal abortion "OK Google" will be left unnamed in the dumpster it was born
  • Figure out a decent way to have Alexa keep track of all those things you can't find when you want them. "Alexa, I am putting my ... in the closet, third shelf."

    • Make it general purpose. What we really need is "Alexa, remember ..." (or OK google, remember..., or whatever)

      People with dementia could really benefit from a voice activated assistant that helps them remember important facts of all kinds.
    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      Not impossible, but it would require some investment in tracking tags and beacons
  • Isn't this backwards? Surely from a user experience point of view, we'd want the minimum possible engagement with the device?

    I should say "Alexa, I'm too hot" and have her turn down the thermostat. It shouldn't be, "Alexa turn down the thermostat" followed by her asking "which device" and then my having to remember what the Ecobee is called (and also to make sure I don't name a smart plug or light anything too similar so that I don't get told off for trying to change the temperature on the wrong sort of dev

  • Like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills? Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills!

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.