How Alexa Works
Alexa is a cloud-based voice service from Amazon. Alexa is the brain behind Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices. Using Alexa is as simple as asking a question—just ask, and Alexa will respond instantly.
Skills add new capabilities that allow you to create a more personalized experience with your Amazon Echo, Amazon Fire TV, and other Alexa-enabled devices. Skills let you receive flash briefings, order food, request a ride, track your fitness, and more.
You can create a flash briefing skill to provide Alexa customers with news headlines and other short content. Typically a flash briefing becomes a part of a customer’s daily routine.
Set up an Amazon developer account using your existing Amazon account. Fill out a registration form which will include contact information. The form asks for the name displayed as the developer or company name of the account and a description of the company/developer.
Clicking next, the form will ask you to accept and agree to adhere to the App distribution agreement.
Lastly, Amazon wants to know if are monetizing or displaying ads in your skills. After clicking accept and continue brings you to your Amazon Developer dashboard.
From your dashboard click Amazon Alexa from the list of developer options shown. On the next page, click the Create Alexa Skills button. On the next page, click the Start a Skill button.
You are now in your Alexa Skills dashboard. Get started creating your skill by clicking the Create Skill button.
On the next page give your Skill a name. For example, Security Marketing News. Click Next. On the next page select Flash Briefing from the list of Pre-Built Models. Click Create Skill.
You are now in the build phase of your Flash Briefing. The first option is to create a custom error message your flash briefing is not available. For example, The Security Marketing News Flash Briefing is not available at this time. Once filled out test the sound by clicking the play button next to the message you just created.
With the error message all set, click the +Add Feed link.
You will now enter your feed details. If you get stuck at
Enter the link to your JSON file or Really Simple Syndication format (RSS). I used a JSON file that I manually edit via notepad (or text/edit on the Mac will do just as fine) update the file once a day (whenever there is a new podcast episode) and post to my Amazon storage cloud service (AWS S3). This gives me the flexibility to add a cover title and link to the Alexa app. I also have the audio files hosted on Libsyn.Com, a podcast hosting service, and added into the JSON file.
This is the best scenario for me as I can then use the now created RSS from Libsyn and submit it to other podcast options like iTunes and Spotify. Whether JSON or an RSS link there are two important points to note. The link to the RSS or JSON file must be HTTPS. Also, the audio links in the JSON file or RSS must be HTTPS. In my case, I have to manually change the link that Libsyn gives me for the audio file to https. If you’re submitting a Libsyn RSS podcast feed make sure it is HTTPS.
The last field for the Feed Information is to upload an icon that is seen Amazon and the Alexa app. The icon will be visible to the public.
Once you click save, Amazon will do a pre-check of the feed. You may have to fix any errors such as too much text in the description or the content is dated too far back.
Next is a lot of testing.
From the Alexa app, the development version of your flash briefing is available only to you. You should see your flash briefing skill and in green white text below the icon it should say “Dev US”. I suggest testing the flash briefing often. From the app go to click the top left menu icon, then click Settings. On the next page, scroll down and click on Flash Briefing. Enable your development skill if it isn’t already enabled. You want to test the process of adding your audio flash briefings to your RSS or JSON file and the sound quality.
From here your flash briefing will need to be certified by the Alexa support team. Once that is done, your flash briefing will be live and ready for the world.
After your app is live
A few things to take note. If you wish to make changes to your flash briefing, You will need to edit the auto-generated development version. Your changes will not be live until you submit the development version for launch review and it successfully passes.
Your flash briefing does have basic metrics for you to keep track of how well it is doing. The metrics captured are unique customers number of plays over a certain set or customized time-frame.
Lastly, you create more than one flash briefing skill. So go have fun creating Alexa flash briefings!