Voice app developers, rejoice: A host of new recordings today joined Amazon’s Alexa audio asset library, more than quintupling it in size. The Seattle-based tech giant announced in a blog post that it’s rolling out over 2,500 clips across 50 categories to the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) Sound Library, the freely available collection it introduced in March 2018. It brings ASK’s total number of samples to nearly 3,000 (up from 400 in 14 categories), and it enables “rich” and “realistic” soundscapes (among other things) that tap ambient audio designed to imitate different spaces.
ASK Sound Library clips incorporated into Alexa voice apps are now played “millions” of times worldwide each month, according to Amazon data engineer June Lee.
“Based on the high demand, we decided to expand the … selection to help you make your skill experience richer,” wrote Lee. “We hope that you find the new sound clips in the ASK Sound Library useful to create richer, more engaging skill experience for your customers.”
The slew of new sounds and categories — the latter of which includes animals, boats, doors, and sports — necessitated redesigned discovery tools. To this end, Amazon introduced a search bar and filters to help surface clips quickly, along with a preview feature that lets developers play sound clips before deciding whether to use them in their apps.
For the uninitiated, the Alexa Skills Kit (of which the ASK Sound Library is a part) comprises all the resources, APIs, code samples, and documentation necessary to build Alexa-compatible voice apps. It complements development tools like Alexa Presentation Language (APL), a JSON-based HTML5 markup language intended to make it easier for developers to create “visually rich” skills for Alexa-enabled devices with screens such as Amazon’s Echo Show, Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and Echo Spot. APL exited preview last September alongside a bevy of new Amazon Echo products.