Developer Programs and APIs in the News – Volume 2, Number 8

In today’s interconnected world, companies in all industries need to publish APIs and cultivate a developer community to access and use them. To be competitive today, attracting and supporting developers is essential. The key to cultivating a vibrant developer community that uses your APIs and supports your platform is a good developer relations program. “Developer Programs and APIs in the News” is a series of news items from developer programs around the world.

Developer Programs and APIs in the News

Amazon – October 24, 2017 – Introducing the All-New Amazon Appstore for Android Devices – “Today we’re excited to announce the all-new standalone Amazon Appstore mobile app for Android. The Amazon Appstore is available on millions of Amazon Fire TV, Fire tablet, and Android devices in 236 countries and territories. The new mobile app is redesigned from the ground up, allowing customers to enjoy the same apps and games that they engage with on Fire TV and Fire tablets on their mobile phones.”

Google – October 24, 2017 – Gmail Add-ons framework now available to all developers – “Now anyone can start building a Gmail add-on. Gmail Add-ons let you integrate your app into Gmail and extend Gmail to handle quick actions.”

Apple, GE – October 18, 2017 – Apple and GE partner to bring Predix industrial apps to iPhone and iPad – “Apple and GE today announced a partnership to deliver powerful industrial apps designed to bring predictive data and analytics from Predix, GE’s industrial Internet of Things (IoT) platform, to iPhone and iPad. The two companies unveiled a new Predix software development kit (SDK) for iOS, which gives developers the tools to make their own powerful industrial IoT apps.”

Google, JFrog, Red Hat, IBM, Black Duck, Twistlock, Aqua Security, CoreOS – October 12, 2017 – Introducing Grafeas: An open-source API to audit and govern your software supply chain – “Building software at scale requires strong governance of the software supply chain, and strong governance requires good data. Grafeas is an open source initiative to define a uniform way for auditing and governing the modern software supply chain. Grafeas (scribe in Greek) provides organizations with a central source of truth for tracking and enforcing policies across an ever growing set of software development teams and pipelines. Build, auditing and compliance tools can use the Grafeas API to store, query and retrieve comprehensive metadata on software components of all kinds.”

Google – October 12, 2017 – Introducing Android Instant Apps SDK 1.1 – “Since our public launch at Google I/O, we’ve been working hard to improve the developer experience of building instant apps. Today, we’re excited to announce availability of the Android Instant Apps SDK 1.1 with some highly-requested features such as improved NDK support, configuration APKs for binary size reduction, and a new API to maintain user’s context when they transition from an instant app to the installed app.”

Dialogflow, API.AI – October 10, 2017 – Introducing Dialogflow, the new name for API.AI – “We realized that we were doing so much more than just providing an API. So with that, we’d like to introduce Dialogflow – the new name for API.AI.Our new name doesn’t change the work we’re doing with you or our mission. Our mission continues to be that Dialogflow is your end-to-end platform for building great conversational experiences and our team will help you share what you’ve built with millions of users.”

Apple – October 6, 2017 – Creating and Promoting Your AR Apps – “ARKit lets you seamlessly blend realistic virtual objects with the real world, so you can take your apps beyond the screen. Use these resources to learn how to clearly indicate when the user enters AR, show users what to expect from your AR experiences with app previews, and build Face Tracking support for iPhone X.”

Google – October 4, 2017 – Apps for the Google Assistant: new languages, devices and features! – “As you may have seen, it’s a big day for the Google Assistant with new features, new devices and new languages coming soon. But it’s also a big day for developers like you, as Actions on Google is also coming to new devices and new languages, and getting better for building and sharing apps.”

Twitter – September 25, 2017 – Refreshing and bringing together our developer resources – “Today we are launching — replacing and bringing together and — as a complete reference center for Twitter’s developer platform. The new site will be a hub for all developer resources. Whether integrating with Twitter for the first time, or innovating and scaling solutions for your customers, you can look to as a place to learn, to manage tools and APIs, and to engage with the Twitter developer community worldwide.”

Apple – September 19, 2017 – The All-new App Store is Here – “The App Store has grown beyond anything we could have ever imagined. And now, with daily stories by our editors, a dedicated Games tab, lists for all kinds of apps, and much more, this beautiful new design provides an amazing place to highlight your incredible work — and help customers discover new apps and games.”

Telstra – September 12, 2017 – Welcome to the new T.DEV! – “At Telstra we’re embarking on a new journey to connect you, the developer, to our services. We realise the importance developers have in coming up with new innovations, in growing new businesses and by shaping the world as we all move up the stack. Telstra is getting closer to developers in a big way, and in some ways we’ve already been talking with developers for a long time through programs.”

Amazon – September 7, 2017 – Export your Amazon Lex bot schema to the Alexa Skills Kit – “You can now export your Amazon Lex chatbot schema into the Alexa Skills Kit to simplify the process of creating an Alexa skill. Amazon Lex now provides the ability to export your Amazon Lex chatbot definition as a JSON file that can be added to the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK). ”

Microsoft – August 28, 2017 – Introducing the Xamarin Certified Mobile Professional Badge – “We’re pleased to introduce a new certification level at Xamarin University, the Xamarin Certified Mobile Professional! This badge will be our initial certification level for developers to demonstrate fundamental competency in Xamarin mobile development.”

Arduino – July 28, 2017 – A New Era for Arduino Begins Today – “This is the beginning of a new era for Arduino in which we will strengthen and renew our commitment to open source hardware and software, while in parallel setting the company on a sound financial course of sustainable growth. Our vision remains to continue to enable anybody to innovate with electronics for a long time to come.”

Samsung – June 21, 2017 – A Must Watch for Game Developers: The Seven Rules of Monetization – “In what was a jam-packed hour, Oscar spoke about the importance of learning through experimentation, failure and data, offering expertise and examples designed to help developers avoid the mistakes he’s seen throughout his almost 20 years in monetization and social freemium game design.”


Send me your Developer Programs News!

If you have news about your Developer Relations Program, send me an email about the news.

David I - Developer Relations Conference

David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
Skype: davidi99
Twitter: @davidi99

Voice Control APIs – Actions, Skills, Cognition and more

With almost everyone on the planet having a smartphone and/or a desktop computer with a microphone, platform companies are adding Voice Control APIs to their technology offerings. Developers have multiple choices to add speech control for their applications. Consumers have been experiencing speech recognition systems when calling companies (airlines, department stores, etc.) and using voice commands instead of having to hit keys on their phones. Major platform vendors, online services and others have opened their APIs for developers to add voice control and conversational user experiences in their applications. Developer program SDKs and APIs are available from Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, SoundHound, and others. In the background, powerful AI, machine learning and natural language processing systems are helping with the “heavy lifting” of voice control and recognition. A challenge for developers is choosing which APIs to support (probably all of them). A challenge for developer relations programs is how to quickly help developers integrate Voice Control APIs for their applications. These developer innovations are also allowing other developer programs to integrate with and provide added value on top of these APIs for their own platforms, products, and services. This blog post lists a few of the many Voice Control APIs that developers can use.

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Voice Control APIs and their Developer Relations Programs

Microsoft – Cortana / Skills – Microsoft leverages the Bing Speech API and Microsoft Cognitive services to power Windows and Android applications like Cortana, Skype Translator and Bing Torque. According to Microsoft, “Cortana connects users to your services, across platforms and devices”. The Cortana Developer Center provides the skills kit, documentation, and samples. You can sign up for the preview to arrive in early 2017. The Cortana developer page also provides guidance for programmers with existing code: “Re-use your custom skill code built for Amazon Alexa”, “Using the Microsoft Bot Framework? Cortana brokers connections between users and bots using the skills kit and the Cortana channel “, and “Import Cortana voice commands from Windows 10 apps”.

Google – Assistant / Actions – Google recently announced the opening of Google Home and Google Assistant for developers. For years we’ve been saying “OK Goggle” into our smartphones. The Google Assistant APIs allow developers to create Actions. The Google Actions site says “Actions on Google let you build for the Google Assistant. Your integrations can help you engage users through Google Home today, and in the future, through Pixel, Allo, and many other experiences where the Google Assistant will be available.” Developers can learn how to quickly integrate voice control into their apps using the Conversation API and Actions SDK. Developer guides, samples, reference documentation and a Web Simulator are available on the Actions on Google developer site.

Amazon – Alexa / Skills – Amazon opened up their Alexa voice service to developers. Alexa is also supported on Amazon’s devices including Echo, Tap and Dot. The Amazon Alexa developer page answers the question “Why Alexa?” with: “Alexa, the voice service that powers Echo, provides capabilities, or skills, that enable customers to interact with devices in a more intuitive way using voice. Examples of these skills include the ability to play music, answer general questions, set an alarm or timer and more. Alexa is built in the cloud, so it is always getting smarter. The more customers use Alexa, the more she adapts to speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.” With Alexa, developers use APIs to  create skills for application voice recognition and operations. Developers can find additional development information on the Alexa Skills Kit site.

Apple – Siri / Domains and Intents – With the release of iOS 10, Apple opened up Siri to iOS application developers with the introduction of SiriKit. According to Apple’s SiriKit site: “SiriKit enables your iOS 10 apps to work with Siri, so users can get things done with your content and services using just their voice. In addition to extending Siri’s support for messaging, photo search and phone calls to more apps, SiriKit also adds support for new services, including ride booking and personal payments.” Developers can learn how to integrate voice control using the SikiKit Programming Guide.

API.AI – Agents / Entities / Intents / Actions / Contexts – natural language platform for developers to create conversation UIs for apps, web applications, devices and bots. SDKs and libraries are available for Android, iOS, watchOS, macOS, Ruby, Javascript, Node.JS, HTML5, Python, C++, C#, Java, PHP and more.  “Our goal is to make the process of creating and integrating sophisticated conversational user interfaces as simple as possible.” You can find the SDKs, APIs, documentation, etc. on the API.AI developer site.

Houndify – Domains – “Houndify is a platform that allows anyone to add smart, voice enabled, conversational interfaces to anything with an internet connection. Once you integrate with Houndify, your product will instantly understand a wide variety of questions and commands.” Houndify, by SoundHound, has developer SDKs for iOS, Android, C++, C#, Java, Javascript, Python, and other platforms via HTTP/REST/JSON. You can join the Houndify developer program for free (there is also a fee level for higher API call volumes) and gain access to the APIs, SDKs, documentation, tutorials, etc.


Facebook Jarvis – Voice Control, the “Voice of God” and someday an API

This week Mark Zuckerberg introduced the world to his year long AI development project called Jarvis – “It uses several artificial intelligence techniques, including natural language processing, speech recognition, face recognition, and reinforcement learning, written in Python, PHP and Objective C.” According to news reports, Zuckerberg personally contacted Morgan Freeman so that Jarvis would have the “voice of God”. You can read about how Zuckerberg built Jarvis and watch the introduction on Faceboook. Zuck also built a Facebook Messenger Bot for Jarvis – You can learn about the bot framework at

Voice Control APIs

Uber and Voice Control Integration

The Uber app for iOS now allows you to use your voice and Siri to launch the ride app. First you need to go to your iPhone’s Settings and click on Siri. On Siri’s settings page, choose “App Support” and turn on Siri support for Uber (and other apps that are listed).  I looked in the Uber Developers Ride Requests documentation to see if there was an API related to Siri, but did not find anything yet. Would it be cool if the Uber API had extensions for several Voice Control APIs for custom application development on iOS and Android? I did find an article on the Uber blog titled “Hound and Uber — The voice interface future is here” that talks about the SoundHound Hound app’s integration with Uber. The blog post starts with “We’re on the brink of a voice interface revolution. In an increasingly connected world, we will speak to the products and services around us.” The post also goes on to talk about “Hound, a consumer voice search and assistant app, and Houndify, a developer platform that enables any developer to add a natural, conversational voice interface to their products.”

Does your Developer Program build APIs on top of other Voice Control APIs

Let me know if you have voice control API extensions for one or more of the above platform vendor APIs. If you have your own developer Voice Control APIs send me an email and I will take a look at what you offer.

David I - Developer Relations Conference

David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
Skype: davidi99
Twitter: @davidi99