Innovation That Matters

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Platform helps non-coders write voice apps


A new platform helps non-coders develop voice apps designed for use with smart speakers.

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According to a survey from NPR and Edison Research, one-in-six Americans (16 percent) now owns a smart speaker, such as an Amazon Alexa. Amazon has tried to make developing new voice controlled apps, called skills, as simple as possible. In reality, it can take a great deal of specialised coding knowledge to create a new skill. This may be preventing some companies, especially small ones, from taking full advantage of developing smart speaker apps for their product or service. Startup Storyline is helping to change this with an easy to use, drag and drop-style interface that allows almost anyone to build an Alexa skill without coding.

Storyline was co-founded by Vasili Shynkarenka and Maksim Abramchuk, two software developers from Belarus who had previously built chat-based applications. The platform uses a visual system based on blocks of text. Users can edit the text, add text and add voice interactions, while Storyline presents a visual overview of the conversation. When finished, users can test the skill and publish it with an Amazon Developer account (Storyline can also help users to create this if they don’t already have one.)

Storyline claims that more than 3,000 skills have already been created using the system, including advanced skills. Around 200 skills have also gone live on Amazon’s Skill Store. Analytics included in the platform can track users, sessions, and interactions, and Storyline also plans to add more capabilities. The basic Storyline is free, but the company is also launching a paid, premium feature. The focus of the premium feature will be on scheduling posts in Flash Briefings. In the future, they will be developing templates to use in building skills for briefings, games and other apps. Additionally, they will enable publishing to other voice platforms, such as Google Home. We have already seen innovations for making coding easier to learn, such as blocks that teach programming through play and a gaming device that teaches coding. What other ways might there be to bring app development within the reach of non-coders?




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