Practice English Speaking&Listening with: New Alexa Features Coming Soon! Widgets, Matter & Skill Updates!

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- Amazon recently held their Alexa Live conference.

Here, Amazon shares the features

that are gonna be coming out to the Echoes.

Sounds like the Echo Show screen

is gonna get some more functionality

that is gonna make it more useful.

Can't wait to see that.

Most Echo devices are going to support Matter.

Also, it sounds like skills

are gonna see some nice updates

that are gonna make them a lot more useful.

Let's take a look.

Now before I get started,

you'll find links to the latest Echoes

down in the description,

along with some additional videos down there,

so go check it out.

The Alexa Live Conference is for developers,

but it does give us an idea of Amazon's vision

for Alexa and where things are going to be heading.

Amazon says there's over 50 new features

for developers to use.

We're only gonna cover a few,

because a lot of 'em don't apply to us.

Now before we talk about those features,

Amazon is focusing on Alexa and ambient computing.

Ambient computing is a term I like,

if you hadn't heard it before,

here is a description from an article I read.

"Referred to as ambient computing,

"these technologies perform computations for you

"without a direct command.

"As ambient means in your environment,

"these devices are intended

"to be so integrated into your surroundings

"that you're no longer conscious of them.

"This is significantly different

"from smartphones and smartwatches

"that we have to actively check to use."

Amazon's vision for Alexa includes three things.

They want it be ubiquitous,

meaning that it's all around you, but it's out of the way.

They want it to be multimodal,

so that you use the most intuitive way to interact,

whether it be touch, voice or motion.

That's right, touch.

There are some people who have given me crap

saying that the Echoes are not meant to be touched,

they're meant to be looked at.

Amazon disagrees, they are meant to be touched.

So there.

I almost knocked it over.

Touch is gonna be a bigger part of the Echo experience.

Last, they want Alexa to be smarter.

By sounding more natural.

By understanding context better.

By being more adaptive and proactive.

I'll take it!

Sounds cool.

One of the ways they're gonna make Alexa smarter

is with self-learning.

Let's say you ask for something

and Alexa doesn't understand.

Alexa will then ask for clarification,

that way when you ask for that thing next time,

Alexa does understand what you want.

To make Alexa sound more natural.

Amazon is using speaking style adaptation.

And what that'll do, Alexa will use context,

and then will adjust the tone, will add pauses or breaths,

to sound more appropriate for the response to the situation.

- Notice the difference in energy and emphasis

in these two sound clips.

- [Alexa] But Germany thinks she can manage it.

And I won't say she can't.

[Man] Now let's listen to the next one.

- [Alexa] But Germany thinks she can manage it.

And I won't say she can't.

- Although it's nice to have a neutral happy sounding Alexa,

there are times your tone may not warrant

that kind of response back.

It's gonna get more intuitive and adapt to that.

Now the big thing, the screen changes.

Amazon is bringin' in APL widgets.

APL widgets are described as:

"Widgets are new way for customers to interact with content

"from the home screen on their device,

"including rich, customizable, glanceable,

"self-updating views of skill content.

"With widgets, interactive skill experiences

"are available to customers

"even before they invoke your skill."

For example, imagine a customer

being able to check an item off of a list.

Or tap a widget to be taken straight to the latest content

your skill has to offer.

What, a home screen with some touch on it,

so you can where you wanna go?

That's what I've been askin' for, I like it.

To support these widgets,

the home screen is supposed to have a new Favorite panel.

And to get these widgets

you're supposed to be a new widget gallery.

I haven't seen this stuff yet, but I am curious.

Another change to the home screen is featured skill cards.

Select developers are gonna be able

to add their skill cards to the home screen.

That way you can interact with them and discover them

right from the home screen, and be exposed to hopefully

some really cool skills in the process.

Let's talk about some of these other skill updates.

Skills are gonna become a bigger part

of the whole Echo and Alexa experience.

For example, skill discovery via popular phrases.

The way this works is when making a generic request like,

"Alexa, tell me a story.

"I wanna work out."

Or "Let's play a game."

Developers are going to be able to tie their skills

to some of those popular phrases,

that way it's served up as an option,

when you do make one of those requests.

As skills keep getting better and better,

the suggestions really could come in handy.

Now with personalized skill suggestions,

Alexa will offer up a skill

that you may have used before that might help.

For example, to use as a response to a request about NASDAQ,

to offer a prompt,

saying that you've used the NBC skill before,

would you like to use it now?

I do like the idea of capitalizing on some of these skills

to enhance the experience

without needing to find these skills.

A big one that I think is cool

is being able to move between skills

without even knowing it.

Amazon is going to use contextual skill experiences

to allow you to move across skills

without making different requests to skills.

This is how they describe it.

"Customers can use natural phrases to accomplish task

"across multiple skills to meet the desired goal.

"Customers don't have to invoke each skill separately,

"or repeat the same information

"when talking to different skills.

"For example, when users ask Alexa

"what happened today in history, Alexa will respond,

"and then ask them if they'd like to search

"for talks on history in the TED Talk skill.

"Alexa will then automatically pass

"the search topic 'history',

"and deep link the customers into the skill."

Without any additional input,

you're able to take that request

and get moved to a skill for more information.

I'm curious to see how this is gonna evolve

into the different categories.

Now the money side of skills.

We're gonna be seeing more products that are advertised up

and skills that we can purchase right from the skills.

And there might be more paid skills.

One of the things Amazon announced is new paid skills

that don't require a subscription.

Rather a one-time fee

for something like a premium version of the skill.

This could be nice, instead of all the subscription fatigue

we're feeling, and yeah, just pay for once and be done.

Next they're adding skill-product linking.

Skill-product linking

allows developers to add products to their skills

that customers can buy right from the skill.

Now the developers will earn a commission

as Amazon associates.

One example of this being used is an app, Starfinder,

which is a game on the Echo Show.

It can prompt you to buy

the physical board game off of Amazon,

and you can do it right through the app.

Another example is a yoga app

that will offer you their accessories,

yoga mats, and all that before the session even begins.

It's gonna be very easy to make those quick purchases,

watch out.

They announced this new Amazon Associates

on Alexa for developers.

We're gonna see a lot more products offered within skills,

because these developers earn a commission

each time you buy one.

So they're going to make it very easy

to just use your voice or touch to get that product right,

and then you don't even have to look for it,

it's just there for you.

I don't use a lotta skills,

I find a lotta 'em are too clunky or limited

and don't offer a lot of value,

but I like the idea of the Send to Phone option.

And this can get you started on the Echo,

and then where it reaches a limit,

it can carry over on the mobile app

and have them tie together.

Here's an example from McDonald's.

McDonald's UK worked with Vixen Labs

to create a skill using Send to Phone

that makes grabbing a great deal even easier.

Customers can use the McDonald's skill

to find nearest restaurant, how to get there,

and the latest deals.

And Alexa will send a notification to their phone

with the deal information deep-linked

to the My McDonald's app.

This could be great for getting information

and getting past the limits that these devices have.

I really hope to see this used more across different apps,

I'd like to see more of my apps

have skills that work well on the Echo Shows.

Next is a nice update, and really,

the next step for the Smart Home.

Most Echoes are going to get Matter support.

If you don't know what Matter is,

here's a description from the Matter website.

"This industry-unifying standard

is a promise of a reliable, secure connectivity.

"A seal of approval

that devices will work seamlessly together

"today and tomorrow.

"Matter is creating more connections

"between more objects,

"simplifying development for manufacturers,

"and increasing compatibility for customers."

Here are the foundations of Matter.

Devices should be easy to purchase and use.

Devices from multiple brands

should work together seamlessly.

They should have consistent and responsive

local connectivity.

And be robust and streamlined for developers and users.

Matter's going to make it so that you could use

any assistant with any accessory.

It's going to be that protocol that helps us have

the USB of the Smart Home.

So you no longer have to decide,

"Well, do I pay more for home kit,

"or do I just go with this other brand

"that only works with Google and Alexa?"

Instead, you got a bunch of devices

that are being certified to all work together.

So that enhances the security of the devices

and gives us a lot more flexibility.

This is really what's needed for the Smart Home.

Some of the older Echo devices won't get this Matter update.

Also, devices are being certified for Matter now.

So hopefully in the fall,

we'll see some new devices and see what they're capable of.

There are some great features coming out,

I'm excited to see more being done

with the Echo Show screen.

I hope we can add

some Smart Home shortcuts to 'em or something.

We should find out more in the fall,

maybe we'll get a faster screen

to (imitates typing) be able to tap and do a lot more on it.

It has been a very clunky and underserved

part of the Echo experience.

Glad to see that it's getting some love.

What are your thoughts on some of these updates coming out,

is there anything that you're excited to see?

Let us know in the comments section.

Now, if you made it this far,

please give this video a thumbs up,

it helps it get recommended to more people.

Next, check out this video over here

for some more Alexa and Echo information.

I'll see you over there, thanks for watchin', bye.

The Description of New Alexa Features Coming Soon! Widgets, Matter & Skill Updates!