Smart speakers powered by digital voice assistants aren’t new to households. 33.2 million devices were sold in 2017. In 2018, this number will likely reach 56.2 million.
This means that in the near future most families in developed countries will have access to a smart voice assistant. And that’s a huge opportunity for companies to reach new audiences and expand to new markets.
Companies can create this impact by developing their own skills for Alexa smart speakers or actions for Google Home. Both skills and actions are smart speakers’ version of the application for mobile phones and allow you to expand the functionality of a digital assistant.
We have already published an article on why businesses should invest in building custom voice skills for smart speakers—check it out for some inspiration!
Competition is relatively low compared to mobile app and website markets;
Voice interaction allows companies to offer a new type of services and reach more customers;
Investments in voice assistants app development are much lower than in app or website development.
Actually, digital voice assistants can be considered as a marketing channel with tremendous ROI. By investing several hundreds of dollars in skill/action development, you can open the door to more conversions, higher involvement and, as a result, increased sales.
If these reasons are convincing enough for you - you landed in the right place. This article will guide you through the voice assistants app development process and surprise you with a smart speaker skill price tag! Note that we focus primarily on Amazon Alexa skill development. However, you’ll find that the approach doesn’t differ much for any other digital assistant platform.
Development of a smart speaker skill
When building a voice assistant app, you have to keep in mind that it will be controlled by voice only. Ensuring that user interaction is intuitive and unambiguous is crucial. Short and simple sentences are preferred.
An invocation is a phrase that wakes up the device and requests access to a certain skill. The invocation should contain the name of the skill and the specific query. Think, “Alexa, ask Avocado Laundry about their opening hours”. Make sure you predict the majority of queries variations, that way the smart speaker will better understand what the user actually wants to know.
Voice assistants app development is a lot like building a website. However, voice skills have a significant advantage: there is no need for a visual interface. In most cases, there is nothing to display on the screen (and there’s often no screen, except for two Echo models which have tiny screens not designed for interaction). So, you can skip two important stages of the usual product creation process—interface design and development. All you need is a strong backend.
As a result, significantly less development time and resources are needed. You don’t even necessarily need a team—one experienced backend developer can handle the task.
The backend for a voice assistant app
Usually, for backend development, you have to choose between two options: develop your own backend or use an available and ready solution, also called backend-as-a-service, like Amazon Lambda.
Custom backend is more reliable and corresponds with your use case. However, it requires more time and effort to create and therefore costs more. In contrast, a BaaS is a one-size-fits-all solution with less customization capabilities but one significant advantage: the price. We have already described all pros and cons of both approaches, check out our comparison of mobile backend as a service and custom backend.
You will also need a chatbot package to enable your skill “understand”, process and respond adequately to user queries. A PHP library like Botman.io, for example, will satisfy the needs of a smart speaker skill, no matter the skill’s complexity.
If you’re developing a skill for Amazon’s Alexa, you may find Alexa Skills Kit useful. It offers APIs for specific types of skills, such as Smart Home Skill API if you want to enable Alexa control your home devices, or Video Skill API if you want to give the smart speaker access to a TV enabling it playing the requested videos.
Custom voice assistants app development
Most voice skills don’t fit in pre-defined types and require a more thorough approach to creating an interaction model. You will also have to consider voice assistant app integration with certain services to make the desired functionality possible. Take a look at some integration examples:
Slack. Enable a smart assistant to post messages in a chosen Slack channel.
Google Calendar. Grant access to your calendar and enable an assistant to add new events and remind you of upcoming appointments.
Wikipedia. Enable your digital assistant access an extensive knowledge database and answer almost any question.
Shopify. Let the smart speaker access essential information about your online store on Shopify, such as the best-selling products or products that need to be fulfilled this month.
The list goes on and on. You can integrate your new skill with any existing service that provides an API. As a result, with a bit of creativity, you can offer a truly useful brand skill smart speaker users will appreciate.
How much does it cost to develop a voice skill?
We have finally come to the most important section of the article—the price.
Development costs vary according to the time required to build the needed functionality and the average development rate of the region where you choose to outsource. In this article, we’ll walkthrough rates offered by Eastern European companies.
Let’s consider the simplest possible informational skill. It can provide a digital assistant user with general information about your business, including your number of employees, the opening hours and the address. This basic functionality takes between 8 and 10 hours to build.
If you need a more extensive voice skill, such as enabling instant ordering, integration with an online shop, enabled transactions and delivery tracking, development time can quickly add up. Count on 100-120 development hours.
Generally speaking, a smart speaker skill of nearly any complexity can be developed within a month and will come to no more than 180 hours total.
Eastern European companies offer their software development services at a rate of between $25 and $60 per hour. This means, that the total price for a simple informational skill starts at $200 and likely won’t exceed $750.
A more sophisticated smart speaker skill will cost $2000-6000.
As you see, the prices for voice assistants app development are significantly lower than those for mobile applications or websites. At the same time, their usefulness is hard to overestimate. Along with access to a new audience, you will be able to market your product in an environment with a relatively low competition. So, don’t miss your chance to be among the first businesses to offer your services through a voice UI!
Would you like to discuss the opportunities available to your company? Use the form below to describe your case. Then, we will calculate the cost of voice assistants app to support your business. Our consultation is free!