Back in September of last year, Amazon announced one of the latest additions to its line up of Alexa-Enabled devices, deemed the Echo Buttons. And after some short-lived fanfare following their release, the charming buttons seemed to fall out of the limelight. Now, Amazon is looking to breathe some new life into its game show-themed buttons by opening the API so developers can build their own skills and more.
Having been on the market for over half a year, the Echo Buttons haven’t lived up to the thrill that Amazon originally intended. Part of that certainly falls onto the limited uses of the buttons, with only 22 different skills having been released since their September debut.
Now, to help bolster the available skills, earlier this week Amazon announced that it would be opening up the buttons’ API. In a move that will allow developers to get their hands dirty designing new use cases for the Echo Buttons, Amazon has released the Gadget Skills API Beta. Developers looking to utilize the new API will be able to integrate inputs and actions with game skills as well as add the buttons into existing skills.
Also in the recent announcement, Amazon showcased a few ways in which developers will be able to take advantage of the Echo buttons. Notable upcoming skill releases include ColorTap, a game to test your reaction speed, a port of the Hasbro game Simon Tap and more.
Amazon also looks to be opening the buttons to more than just games, which comes as a pleasant surprise for those hoping to get some more practical uses out of them. The API’s documentation page notes a few uses like a sound effect generator or a colored light-up indicator to denote a timer ending. Hopefully this will eventually cover application in smart home skills, as the Echo Button has the potential to be one of the more affordable home controllers on the market.
As Amazon continues to expand upon the functionality of Alexa and its device lineup, we’ll hopefully see some new, novel uses for the Echo Buttons.
If you’re curious as to all the new possibilities with the buttons, you can dig through the API yourself. If you don’t already down a pair of the adorable Alexa add-ons, you can pick up a 2-pack of the Echo Buttons for $20 at Amazon.
Today we are excited to announce the Gadgets Skill API (Beta) for developers to build game skills for Echo Buttons – the first Alexa Gadget in a new category of connected products and developer tools that are focused on fun and playful experiences with Alexa. Echo Buttons deliver a new way for customers to play games with friends and family, and are now shipping to customers in the US, the UK, Germany, Austria, and Ireland. Each Echo Button illuminates and can be pressed to trigger a variety of multiplayer and interactive game experiences on compatible Echo devices including Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Plus, and Echo Spot.
Start Building Games for Echo Buttons
With the Alexa Skills Kit, you can use the Gadgets Skill API (Beta) to integrate inputs and actions into your game skills. These skills can respond to button presses in your skill and send actions to Echo Buttons, such as animations that will direct the buttons to illuminate. You can access the Gadgets Skill API (Beta) technical documentation to learn more and start building.
How Early Developers Used the Gadgets Skill API (Beta) to Build Echo Button Games
During our preview of the Gadgets Skill API (Beta), developers built Echo Button games that span trivia, action, and choose your own adventure genres. These games include Trivial Pursuit Tap by Hasbro, Hanagram, Button Monte, Don’t Cut that Wire, Alien Decoder, Bandit Buttons, and The Mystery of Thorium Manor. While these game genres work well with Echo Buttons, the Gadgets Skill API (Beta) can be used to build other gaming – and non-gaming – experiences.
A Classic Game Reimagined: Simon Tap by Hasbro (Just say “Alexa, launch Simon Tap“)
In tandem with the Gadgets Skill API (Beta) launch, we introduced a new game for Echo Button players – Simon Tap by Hasbro, the Classic Simon game, reimagined. Available in the US at launch, Simon Tap by Hasbro comes to Alexa with a few twists. Players listen closely as Alexa rattles off a sequence of colors, or they can create their own patterns with friends and family.
“We’re excited about Alexa. The Gadgets Skill API allowed us to bring voice-enabled play to our well-loved Simon brand,” said Mark Blecher, SVP Digital Gaming & Corporate Development at Hasbro. “Our vision is that Echo Buttons will enable all new fun and engaging ways for families to interact with Hasbro games by using Alexa, which continues to delight customers through innovative voice driven experiences. We started this journey with the introduction of Trivial Pursuit Tap, and are now excited to bring Simon Tap to Echo Button players.”
More Echo Button Games from the Developer Community
When we rolled out a preview of the Gadgets Skill API (Beta), our developer community published these fun experiences for Echo Button players:
- Freedom Buttons: Listen to Dr. Martin Luther King’s poetic “I Have a Dream” speech, while Alexa lights up Echo Buttons like candles.
- Alpha Buzz: Players put their knowledge to the test and see if they can put a name to a list of different categories for each letter of the Alphabet.
- Color Tap: Players test their reaction time and tap Echo Buttons when they turn red. With each press, the lights speed up!
- Horse Race for Echo Buttons: Players race against each other using Echo Buttons in an epic horse race around the track.
3 Steps to Get Started with the Gadgets Skill API (Beta)
Now it’s your turn. With the Gadgets Skill API (Beta) now available, follow the steps below to start building today:
- Get Echo Buttons: Visit Amazon.com/EchoButtons to purchase your two-pack of Echo Buttons!
- Access the Gadgets Skill API (Beta) Tech Docs: Reference the technical documentation, along with this sample code to build your first Echo Button game skill.
- Build and Publish Your Game Skill: Log in to the developer portal and start building.
Echo Button players are looking for more games to play! They can’t wait to see what Alexa skill builders will come up with next.