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

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

Google – January 31 – Google IO developer conference – May 17-19, 2017. Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA – “Check back soon for more details.”
VoiceLabs – January 30 – VoiceLabs releases 4 new SDKs for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant – “We’re excited to roll out new VoiceLabs SDKs to support the entire ecosystem of voice developers. For Alexa: In addition to Node.js, Java and Python, you’ll find a new Ruby SDK and a modified Python SDK to support the Flask-ask platform. For Assistant: In addition to Node.js, there is now a Java SDK and a Python SDK.”
Microsoft – January 30 – Announcing .NET Core, .NET Native and NuGet Updates in VS 2017 RC – “We just released updates to the .NET Core SDK, .NET Native Tools and NuGet, all of which are included in Visual Studio 2017 RC. You can also install the .NET Core SDK for command-line use, on Windows, Mac and Linux.”
Amazon – January 30 – Excited about MXNet joining Apache! – “We have a significant team at Amazon working with the MXNet community to continue to evolve it. The team proposed MXNet joining the Apache Incubator to take advantage of the Apache Software Foundation’s process, stewardship, outreach, and community events. We’re excited to announce that it has been accepted.”
Facebook – January 30 – is now shut down – “The Parse service is now shut down. To all the developers out there, it was a pleasure helping you build apps. Goodbye and good luck!”
Node.js Foundation – January 26 – The Node.js Foundation Partners with The Linux Foundation on New Node.js Certification Program – “The Node.js Foundation, a community-led and industry-backed consortium to advance the development of the Node.js platform, today announced development of the inaugural Node.js certification program aimed to establish a baseline competency in Node.js.”
Cisco – January 25 – Cisco Announces Intent to Acquire Application Performance Monitoring Leader AppDynamics – “AppDynamics’s cloud application and business monitoring platform enables the world’s largest companies to improve application and business performance. The combination of Cisco and AppDynamics will allow us to provide end to end visibility and intelligence from the network through to the application; which, combined with security and scale, and will help IT to drive a new level of business results.”
Apple – January 24 – Allow Users to Provide Ratings From Within Your App – “With iOS 10.3 developers can use a new API to ask users to provide store ratings from within the app.”
Qlik – January 24 – Qlik Sense Cloud Business Now Available for Immediate Web-based Visual Analytics – “Powered by the patented QIX Associative Indexing Engine, Qlik Sense Cloud Business provides the scalability and performance of the industry-proven Qlik visual analytics platform in a complete cloud environment.”
Intel – January 24 – ZTE Achieves Performance Breakthrough for Deep Learning with Intel FPGAs – “Intel and ZTE, a leading technology telecommunications equipment and systems company, have worked together to reach a new benchmark in deep learning and convolutional neural networks (CNN). The technology is what many companies in Internet search and artificial intelligence are trying to advance, and includes picture search and matching, as one example.”
Microsoft – January 23 – Microsoft makes testing easy with open source Visual Studio Test – “Microsoft has open sourced its Visual Studio Test aka VS Test platform. The latest open source project by the software giant was originally used by its internal team to run tests in various languages. Available as a part of the .Net Core Tools in Visual Studio, VS Test is popularly used for integrated testing with Visual Studio. ”
Qt Company – January 23 – Qt v5.8 is released – “I am happy to announce that Qt 5.8 has been released today and is available for download from Qt 5.8 does of course come with Qt Creator 4.2.1 and an update to Qt for Device Creation. Qt 5.8 is a rather large release, containing quite a large set of new functionality.”
Oracle – January 19 – Oracle acquires Apiary – “Oracle today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Apiary, whose pioneering APIFlow solution provides the framework and tools for developing application programming interfaces (APIs) that share enterprise services and data and help create modern, cloud-based applications and experiences.”
Google – January 18 – Welcoming Fabric to Google – “Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve signed an agreement to acquire Fabric to continue the great work that Twitter put into the platform. Fabric will join Google’s Developer Product Group, working with the Firebase team. Our missions align closely: help developers build better apps and grow their business.”
VoiceLabs – January 15 – The 2017 Voice Report by VoiceLabs – “In 2016, Amazon Echo evolved from novelty to in-the-home powerhouse, with over seven million devices in households. Google Home launched in November, legitimizing a multi-platform ecosystem of voice-first devices. VoiceLabs created The Voice Report to help define this emerging market, map out key pieces of the ecosystem, and highlight both the impressive growth and areas for improvement.” The VoiceLabs 36-page 2017 Voice Report highlights key analysis and predictions for voice first devices and based applications.
Visa – January 12 – Meet Visa Developer’s Community Manager Ricardo Navarro – “Meet Ricardo Navarro! He joined Visa as our new Visa Developer Community Manager. As Community Manager, he’ll be engaged in supporting and inspiring developers to become more familiar trying out the APIs connected with this new innovative platform.” This post has a Q&A with Ricardo so you get to know him better.
Google – January 6 – The Google+ API for Hangouts is no longer supported. – “We will be retiring the Google+ Hangouts API that enables developers to build apps for the older version of Hangouts video calls. New apps cannot be created but existing apps will continue to run until April 25th, 2017. We have carefully considered this change and believe that the latest updates allow us to give our users a more targeted Hangouts desktop video experience going forward.”
Sony – January 4 – Sony’s new LMX-001 display allows companies to fully customize their AR solutions – “With the LMX-001 holographic waveguide display, companies can develop customized augmented reality (AR) solutions tailored for specific use cases. The waveguide display can be integrated into a range of products such as protective eyewear, motorcycle helmets, lab glasses and any other type of solutions where the user benefits from getting real-time information directly in the field of view.”


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