Today, Amazon announced a new program which incentivizes developers to build and host skills using Amazon Web Services (AWS). Currently, tens of thousands of developers are creating new skills for Amazon's voice controlled system, Alexa. Now these developers and any new ones will be able to take advantage of AWS's new Free Tier program. This new program offers the developers for free one million AWS Lambda requests and up to 750 hours of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) compute time per month. But, if the developer goes over the amount of free AWS tier limits, they will be charged for usage each month.
If you are a developer and currently have a published Alexa skill, you are eligible to apply to receive a $100 AWS promotion credit as well as receive an additional $100 per month AWS promotion credits if they experience AWS usage charges for their skill. In essence, Amazon is making it cost effective or free for developers to build and host most Alexa skills.
"There is already a large community of incredibly engaged developers building skills for Alexa," said Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, 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."
Hurricane Center, an Alexa skill that provides the latest storm information based on data from governmental agencies, uses AWS Lambda. "The customer response to Hurricane Center has been incredibly positive, and Alexa has offered us an entirely new way to deliver the latest in weather and storm information," said Terren Peterson, Hurricane Center's developer and an experienced technology executive. "Now, if my skill sees extensive use during hurricane season, I can be assured that those scalable costs will be covered with this new program. It puts my mind at ease and allows me to help more individuals be prepared for storms."
Ryan Kroonenburg is a UK-based Solutions Architect and the founder of A Cloud Guru, a training community on AWS, which just introduced courses on creating Alexa skills. "Developers already know that building for Alexa is free using AWS Free Tier with AWS Lambda, but what they can't plan for is how successful their skill will be," said Ryan Kroonenburg. "This program not only allows developers to create robust skills that use AWS services like Amazon DynamoDB without worrying about costs, but also ensures that popular skills that hit more than 1 million calls per month are cost effective to maintain. It's a big benefit for the Alexa skill developer community."
Darian Johnson, a technology consultant and Alexa skill developer, uses AWS Lambda and Amazon DynamoDB for his Alexa skill, Virtual Librarian, which provides reading recommendations based on bestseller lists, award nominations, and user reviews. The skill won Most Useful API Mashup in a recent Hackster.io contest. "AWS services, like Amazon DynamoDB, have allowed me to create more robust skill experiences," said Darian Johnson. "Now that I'm able to freely create and scale skills, and have the peace of mind that I'm covered if my skill takes off, I'm motivated to see what next big skill I can create."
To learn more about the program, developers are encouraged to visit developer.amazon.com/alexa. Here, you will be able to apply for the program and learn more about building and hosting skills using the Alexa Skills Kit and AWS.