Amazon Alexa developers can now ask for customer’s location, track their skills’ performance

Amazon this morning rolled out new tools for developers of Alexa apps, aka “Skills,” which aim to give them more insight into their app’s users, as well as allow them to build location-based skills. The first is a new metrics dashboard – similar to those used by developers of mobile applications, but designed for these voice apps – which lets Alexa developers track things like unique customers, sessions, utterances (spoken words) and intents.

The other is a device address API which allows developers to request specific location data from their customers, including street address, city, state, zip, and country.

The dashboard is being made available in the developer portal, and presents a high-level view of the app’s metrics in the overview tab – like total customers, sessions, utterances, etc. A separate sessions tab will let developers drill down into this data further, to see things like the number of successful end session types, average number of sessions per customer, average number of utterances by customer, and more.

An intents tab helps developers figure out where they may have gone right and wrong with their skill’s design, by surfacing metrics like failed utterances by intent, and total number of utterances by intent.

Or, in layman’s terms, this means developers will be able to find answers to basic questions about their app – like how many customers do they have, if more people are adding the skill and using it, what time of day the skill is more heavily used, and more.

Meanwhile, the addition of the device address API is meant to improve those skills that require a precise address or more specific location. For example, food and grocery delivery services can’t rely on a customer’s general location – they need to know a house number.

The new API will allow developers to build skills where users provide consent to share this information. It can also be used to share a broader location, like country and postal code only, in addition to a physical address.

As an added protection, users can only consent to sharing their location via the Alexa mobile app – not by voice. That could cut down on accidental confirmations, as users will explicitly have to agree to this data sharing.

Developers can now prompt for consent using a new “AskForPermissionsConsent” card style which pops up in the Alexa app.

Some brands have already rolled out the new API to their own apps, including Accuweather, Just Eat, and German retail chain, Real. Accuweather is using it to provide local weather information, while Just East is using it for food ordering. Real, meanwhile, is offering local news, discounts for local stores, and local store hours.