International Alexa skills: it’s a thing. Now that we’ve learned Alexa’s arrival in the UK and Germany is imminent, Alexa skill developers are wondering how this impacts them and their skills: both skills they’ve already published, and those they’re planning or currently developing.
Existing Skills: One-Time UK Migration
With the exception of Smart Home API skills and skills that use the AMAZON.LITERAL slot type, all skills that were live as of 9/12/16 are included in a one-time, Amazon-run migration that will effectively create a second, UK-specific branch of the skill while leaving the pre-existing, U.S. version in place with no changes.
Skills that use the AMAZON.LITERAL slot type aren’t included because that slot type is not supported by the English (UK) and German Alexa language bases. There are also plans to deprecate it here in the U.S., so if you’re using it in any of your skills it’s a good time to start thinking about how to change that in your code.
Smart Home API skills aren’t included because they all involve account linking, and also because the makers of impacted smart home devices are being given an opportunity to have a say in how their product integration is handled at the outset.
You can choose to opt out of the migration. From Amazon:
“You have until 8 am PST on Wed, 9/21 to Contact Us and request for your skills to be opted out of the migration plan. Please provide your vendor ID, Skill ID and Skill Name to help us identify the skills you would like us to exclude from the migration. Opting out of the migration would mean that you will need to manually create an English (UK) variant and submit your skill for certification for your skill to be available to customers in the English (UK) language.”
Click here to read Amazon’s FAQ about the migration.
Future & In-Development Skills
Going forward, it’s possible to create a multi-language skill that uses a single code base. New fields and options have been added to the Alexa Skills Kit / API to support this new functionality.
Amazonian Dean Bryen has written a detailed post and step-by-step tutorial that will walk you through the process of creating an international Alexa skill: How to Build a Multi-Language Alexa Skill.
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