Before I get into defining Alexa Presentation Language (APL), I have to define “Multimodal Voice App.”
What the heck is a multimodal voice app?
By now, we’re all somewhat familiar with what we can ask Alexa to do. Some of us way more familiar than others.
And by now, we should at least have some level of familiarity with what “Alexa Skills” are. They’re simply applications built on top of Alexa, the same way mobile applications are built for the iOS App Store or Android Google Play Store.
So yes, it’s possible to build a voice-based application that does all of the things (and more) that/than a web-app or mobile app does. It’s also possible to fully integrate these voice-based apps (for Amazon Alexa – they’re called “Skills” and for Google Assistant they’re called “Actions” into preexisting web-apps and mobile apps.
For example, imagine signing up for a subscription service on a website, being able to then view it on your mobile app, but also being able to ask Alexa to bring up premium content on your Echo device or any Alexa enabled device.
With me? Great.
Okay, now consider the fact that Amazon has not only Alexa-abled cars, headphones, etc. but they’re also selling tens of millions of devices with screens.
The Echo Show and Echo Show 5 are super popular, and the Spot still exists, as well as Amazon Fire app that is also Alexa-enabled.
So voice-based apps that are designed for more than one type of device (i.e. Echo and Echo Show and/or Echo Auto and Amazon Fire) are called Multimodal Voice-based apps. They’re voice activated and voice navigated, but they also have visuals.
Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about Alexa Presentation Language (APL).
This is how the Alexa Skills Kit (for developers) allows you to design for multimodal Alexa Skills. This video shows you some cool features about designing and testing using the APL Authoring Tool and my Echo Show 5 Device.
The link I’m on in this video is this one – https://developer.amazon.com/alexa/console/ask/displays