Amazon has today announced an aggressive new move to encourage developers to get coding for its Alexa voice assistant platform. The plan is simple: Make if free. For a bit, anyway.
Under the new programme, Amazon says that "tens of thousands" of developers will be able to build and host most Alexa Skills (think Apps but for Alexa) using Amazon's Lambda Web Services platform - with $100 of free promotional credit, in addition to the already existing free tier of services that lets developers make a million requests and use up to 750 hours of computing time for free.
What this means in plain English is that developing for Alexa - and adding Skills to Amazon Echo and the other devices that Alexa powers - just got cheaper for individuals. In addition to this, the $100/month promotional credit will be renewed every month if you have a published skill - in practice making it free for the vast majority of developers. So if someone accidentally creates a runaway hit, they won't be immediately stung by massive hosting bills.
It's a smart move by the company as it reduces the barriers for developers and will help Amazon more strongly establish Alexa as a platform ahead of the likes of Google Home, and the inevitable eventual Siri equivalent. If you want to take Amazon up on the offer you can do so here.