Last year during its Max 2018 conference in Los Angeles, Adobe took the wraps off a new version of Adobe XD with enhancements on the voice assistant design front and tighter integration with the company’s broader Creative Cloud suite. Building on this groundwork, the San Jose company today unveiled the Amazon Alexa XD plugin, which can export prototypes directly to Alexa devices. Additionally, it launched the Adobe XD skill for Alexa, which enables designers to access said prototypes via Alexa-enabled smart displays and speakers like the Amazon Echo Dot and Lenovo Smart Display.
“Today, we’re excited to introduce a new way to prototype voice experiences using Adobe XD and Amazon Alexa. These … tools let you export and preview voice prototypes on any Alexa-enabled device,” wrote Adobe director of product voice UI and UX Mark Webster in a blog post. “As voice becomes even more ubiquitous, designers need more ways to incorporate voice into their processes to create experiences that leverage this new medium.”
The Amazon Alexa XD plugin lets you preview Adobe XD works-in-progress on an Alexa device, while the Adobe Skill — which Adobe notes is its first Alexa skill to market — allows you to interact with them. The former is largely a plug-and-play affair, but the latter requires first ensuring the Amazon Alexa plugin is enabled (via the XD Plugin Manager) and then activating the Adobe XD skill through the Alexa Skills Store online or through the Alexa companion app. Complete those steps, though, and you’ll be golden.
“It’s our goal to provide designers, developers, and creators with the support they need to build great voice experiences with the tools they are familiar with,” said Amazon head of voice design education Paul Cutsinger. “We’re excited to work with Adobe to help Adobe XD designers more easily prototype their Alexa skill experiences, and give their vision a voice.”
The latest release of Adobe XD supports voice prototyping, with a suite of tools aimed at streamlining development for in-car navigation systems, mobile devices, and intelligent assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and the Google Assistant. It complements the launch of the first Adobe UI kit created specifically for Amazon’s recently announced Alexa Presentation Language (APL) framework, which comprises a number of styles, typography, colors, and components required for visual Alexa apps running on smart displays like Amazon’s Echo Show and Echo Spot.
APL, for the uninitiated, was unveiled in September alongside 11 new and refreshed Alexa-enabled devices. It enables developers to build skills with text, audio, video, and HTML5 that connect with TVs using Fire TV, Fire tablets, Echo Show, and Echo Spot.