Amazon’s Alexa devices are ambient computers, not the kind you use all day. When you do ask your Echo a question or glance at your Echo Show’s diminutive screen, the voice assistant only has a brief chance to impress. Today, Amazon is announcing it’s going to give more of those opportunities to third-party developers — including brand-new widgets and featured skill cards that might take up a chunk of your smart speaker’s precious real estate.
Here’s what to expect from those and everything else the company’s announcing at its Alexa Live event today.
As you can see in Amazon’s mockup above, widgets look pretty much as you might expect. In a blog post, Amazon describes them as “rich, customizable, glanceable, self-updating views of skill content” where you can check items off a to-do list or activate a skill’s functions, without needing to say “Alexa” first. It’s not yet clear how limited they are or if they might effectively be a way to build a touchscreen app for an Echo Show.
Featured skill cards might be slightly controversial, depending on how useful they are. It promotes new Alexa skills on your home screen, even if you haven’t asked for them. It’s not exactly an advertising service, Amazon Alexa Skills VP Aaron Rubenson tells The Verge, not something developers will have to pay for. “It’s open to everybody to raise their hand and say they want to be part of it,” he…