5/19/17 Alexa Fast Tips Friday

Welcome to LME’s 5/19/17 Alexa Fast Tips Friday. You may have heard some of these before, but hopefully, at least one will be totally new and helpful to you.

Please note: not being in the UK myself I can’t test any of these tips for UK Alexa users. If the functionality isn’t there yet, it should be coming to you soon.


Thank Gandalf Its Friday


1. General search: it’s a thing now!
When it comes to factual queries of, “What is {thing},” “Who is {person},” or “Where is {place},” Alexa can now provide an answer. In the past, you’d have to word these types of questions as, “Wikipedia {person, place, thing}.”

I can’t say I’ve seen the programming code for this change, but it seems to draw results from both Wikipedia and Bing. I haven’t done extensive testing, but on purely factual questions (where there is definitely one right answer) I’ve yet to have these questions fail.


2. Roomba WiFi smart vacuuming robots now have Alexa support in the U.S.
The new functionality, which is available for all WiFi-enabled Roomba robotic vacuums, is enabled via the new iRobot skill. iRobot is the company that makes the Roomba, this is not a skill from an outside developer.


3. Amazon has started paying royalties to developers of Alexa game skills, so be on the lookout for higher quality games you can play with Alexa.
The developer payment plan is brand new, and currently on a trial basis. It seems to run along the same lines as Amazon’s Underground apps program: the developer is compensated based on how often, by how many, and for how long, his skill is used. These criteria are great motivators for the most capable developers to create unique, interactive game experiences that are of high enough quality and entertaining enough to keep users coming back for more.

The choose-your-own adventure type of game has been very popular with Alexa users but there haven’t been many available, because they take a lot of work to create. Now, with this new trial compensation plan, it’s finally worth it for developers to write these complex types of skills.

I’ve got some new game skills of my own in the hopper too, so stay tuned!

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With the iRobot Roomba 960 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner (UK visitors click here), not only can you can outsource a hated household chore to an actual, bona-fide robot, you can schedule it to run its cleaning cycle automatically at set times on set days. Now, with Alexa voice control support via the iRobot Alexa skill!

Roomba 960

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