On 20th Sep 2018, Amazon officially announced a preview of a new design language i.e Alexa Presentation Language (APL) for developers which helps them to build interactive voice experiences that include images, video, slideshows, and graphics, and to customize them for different device types which include not just Eco Show, but other Alexa-enabled devices like Fire Tablet, Fire TV, and the small screen of the Alexa alarm clock, the Eco Spot.
Anyone who is well experienced in front-end development will feel familiar with this syntax, as it follows universally understood styling practices. Amazon is also offering documents of APL to help developers get started, which can be modified or can be used as-is and developers can choose to develop their own scratch as well.
These documents of APL are JSON files sent to a device from a skill. The device will then assess the document, import the images and other data, then render the experience. Now, developers can use elements like text, images, layouts, scrollviews, conditional expressions, speech synchronization, sequences, pages, and other commands. Support for audio, video, and HTML5 are coming soon.
“This year alone, customers have interacted with visual skills hundreds of millions of times. You told us you want more design flexibility -in both content and layout – and the ability to optimize experiences for the growing family of Alexa devices with screens,” said Nedium Fresko, VP of Alexa Devices and Developer Technologies, in a statement. “With the Alexa Presentation Language, you can unleash your creativity and build interactive skills that adapt to the unique characteristics of Alexa Smart Screen devices,” he said.
A few skills have already started using APL, including a Big Sky that shows images to present its weather forecasts, CNBC skill that shows a graph of stock performance, Food Network which shows recipes, Kayak that shows a slideshow of travel destinations, NextThere, which lets you view public transit schedules, and many more.
Alexa device owners are allowed to use these APL-powered skills starting next month whereas developer preview for APL is available now to use.
Source: Amazon Official Blog