Skills for Alexa will soon push notifications to devices

Skills for Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa will soon be able to send push notifications to supported devices.

The notifications could alert users to new content available on their Echo or other Alexa-supported devices with a chime and pulsing green light. Announced this morning, Washington Post, Life360, JustEat, and AccuWeather will be among the first four skills with the ability to push notifications to users who opt-in to receive alerts (which can be done on a skill-by-skill basis.)

In the fight against increasing competition from Google and Microsoft for dominance of the smart home, the new feature which enables third-party apps for a voice assistant to proactively send notifications is (as of writing) a first in the market. Later today, however, Google will be holding its annual I/O developer conference where a similar announcement could be made which levels the playing field once more.

“When available, users will be able to opt-in to notifications per skill using the Amazon Alexa App and will be alerted when there’s new information to retrieve by a chime and a pulsing green light on their Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show device,” said head Alexa evangelist David Isbitski in a blog post today. “When users enable notifications on a skill like The Washington Post, the skill will send status updates to the device. Users can simply ask, ‘Alexa, what did I miss?’ or ‘Alexa, what are my notifications?’”

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) will be updated “in the coming months” for other developers to create their own skills with push notification functionality. For device manufacturers, a developer preview of the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) will soon be released which allows hardware makers to update their products to support a new directive and to control an on-device indicator (LED or on-screen equivalent) and earcon.

You can sign up here to be alerted when ASK is updated with the new push notification features.

Are you looking forward to Alexa’s push notification functionality? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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