If you are looking to expand your development skills and diversify what type of apps and services you build then the growing world of Skills for Amazon's Alexa service is one that deserves a closer look.

There is no doubt that the Smart Home is one of those areas that is growing and expected to continue to push even further into automating everything about our daily lives. Amazon's Alexa service, which is accessible through its line of Echo products, Fire tablets, and phone apps is well entrenched as a portal to Smart Home control and information delivery/interactions.

These interactions are accessible through Alexa using apps called Skills. They are not unlike any app you find in one of the app stores for our mobile devices or desktop computers. They provide you with an interface to access information or perform certain actions with connected devices, services, and other tools. In the case of Alexa, just like other digital assistants, the primary method of using these Skills is through voice control.

Amazon understands this means they need to offer developers incentives to builds Skills for Alexa and so they recently announced a program very similar to Microsoft's free Azure credits for developers.

The AWS Promotional Credits for Alexa program allows developers to build and host most Alexa Skills at no cost. According to Amazon, many Alexa Skills developers already use the AWS Free Tier but of they run over the allotted free usage on that tier they could end up with charges each month.

Under this new program, Amazon will give developers up to $100 each month in promotional credits if they do incur charges for hosting their Alexa Skill on AWS.

There is also a bonus $100 AWS credit for when you publish your first Alexa Skill on the service.

In order to start this process you just need to apply for the credits. All that is needed to apply is your Amazon Developer Vendor ID, AWS Account ID, and your email address.

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