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Amazon Opens Up Free AWS Access For Alexa Developers

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

New Program so developers can build Alexa skills for free using the Amazon Web Services Platform

Amazon continues to seek a way to ensure its voice-controlled assistant Alexa achieves an edge over its AI rivals.

To this end it has announced a new programme to allow Alexa developers to build and host most Alexa skills using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

And if these developers have a published Alexa skill, they can apply to receive a $100 AWS promotional credit and can also receive an additional $100 per month in AWS promotional credits if they incur AWS usage charges for their skill. This makes it free for developers to build and host most Alexa skills, said the firm.

amazon-echoFree Access

Amazon feels the credit option is needed because even though Alexa developers tend to take advantage of the AWS Free Tier, if they exceed the AWS Free Tier limits, they may incur AWS usage charges each month.

“There is already a large community of incredibly engaged developers building skills for Alexa,” said Steve Rabuchin, VP Amazon Alexa. “Today, we’re excited to announce a new program that will free up developers to create more robust and unique skills that can take advantage of AWS services. We can’t wait to see what developers create for Alexa.”

Developers can go here to apply for this program.

Amazon has been seeking ways for Alexa to gain (and maintain) an important market share foothold against its rivals

For example, earlier this month it set up a year-long programme dubbed Alexa Fund Fellows, to help students learn how to build capabilities into its voice-controlled assistant Alexa.

AI Race

And there is little doubt that the race for AI domination is hotting up.

At this month’s CES 2017, show it was revealed that BMW and Nissan have both opted to go with Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant.

Ford took a different route and is adopting Amazon’s Alexa.

Hyundai meanwhile is going with the Google Assistant for its in-car virtual assistant, which can be currently found in Google’s Pixel smartphones and its Home smart home hub.

Earlier this month Amazon agreed to hand over data recorded by an Echo “smart speaker” for use in a murder investigation after the defendant gave his consent.

Arkansas resident James Andrew Bates, 31, is accused of the murder of his friend Victor Collins, 47, a former Georgia police officer, who was found dead in Bates’ hot tub in November 2015 after Bates, Collins and another friend spent the evening watching a football game.

Amazon had resisted police attempts to force it to hand over any recordings the company might hold from Bates’ Echo device to shed further light on the events of the night in question.

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