AWS offers free building, hosting of Alexa skills to developers

Amazon says it is now free for Alexa developers to build and host most Alexa skills using Amazon Web Services.

Developers previously took advantage of the cloud infrastructure’s Free Tier, which provided 1 million AWS Lambda requests and 750 hours of Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) time per month for no cost. But developers that went over those limits were on the hook for any usage charges. Now developers that a published Alexa skill can apply to receive a $100 AWS promotional credit and if they incur usage charges for their Alexa Skill, they’ll receive an additional $100 credit.

That makes it free for developers to build and host Alexa skills, according to Amazon. Just apply for the credit.

“Our goal is to free up developers to create more robust and unique skills that can take advantage of AWS services,” writes David Isbitski, chief evangelist for Alexa at Amazon, in a blog post. “We can’t wait to see what you create.”

Alexa is the voice-activated home assistant that is finding its way into more American homes with each passing day. In addition to providing a way to instantly purchase something from Amazon and have it shipped to you – “Alexa, I need more toothpaste” – the AI-powered assistant can answer questions about weather forecasts, local stores, and other random facts. Developers can add more services to Alexa by programming new “Skills” for the platform. Alexa isn’t available for sale in Canada.

Developers calling upon other AWS services such as EC2, Simple Storage Service (S3), DynamoDB, or CloudFront for their Alexa skill can apply their credit towards the use of those services too, Isbitski writes.

“For example, you can use DynamoDB to create more engaging skills that have context and memory,” he says. “In a game with memory, you could pause for a few hours and then keep going… Or to give your customers a more immersive experience consider incorporating audio files via Amazon S3.”

Developers that have a published skill and are approved for the promotional credit can expect to receive it in their email around the 15th of the following month, Amazon says. The $100 promotional credit is valid for one year. Amazon will also send developers that publish a skill a free t-shirt.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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