Test in-development Alexa Skill with an Echo device

My latest project is to be able to somewhat control my RaspberryPi with my Alexa devices. For simplicity, I did all my testing using the Test section of the Alexa Developer portal. This section allows you to simply write whatever you want to feed into the Alexa algorithms and bypass the speech-to-text section. Turns out the first time I tested with my Echo nothing was working. Even when running with my smartphone and the Amazon Alexa app, nothing worked. Here is how I managed to test in-development Alexa Skill with an Echo device.

Diagnosing the issue

The first thing that I assumed was that I had to enable the skill somehow. The first place I looked at was at the configuration in the Alexa Developer portal. After looking around for a little while, I could not see anything that would enable the skill for myself.

Next on the list was to see if the skill was enabled on my device. You can see the in-development skills in your account by checking in the installed skills on your Alexa Smartphone App. It turns out that skills that are in development are automatically enabled if the emails used for your Alexa login and your Alexa Developer portal are the same. So this was not the issue.

While Googling around, I found a bit more information to point me in the right direction on this page:

Make sure that the locale of your Alexa app matches at least one of the locales available for your skill. For example, if your skill has the en-US locale, set your Alexa app to English (United States).

There it was, that was my issue. My Alexa devices are all set as English/Canada and my skill only had an English/United-States setup.

Fixing the issue

I had two choices to fix my problem: update my devices to English/United-States or update my skill to support English/Canada. I decided to do the second one.

Skill Language Settings

Skill Language Settings

Adding the new language through the Alexa Developer portal is quick and easy:

  1. Go to the language setting section of your skill (image on the right)
  2. On the next page, you will be able to add languages to your skill

Once the language is added, you will need to add most of the configuration again. I could not find any way to copy an existing language into another. Also, I ended up with some HTTP 500 issues along the way, a simple refresh of the page fixed these.

Once the new language is added, your Echo devices and Smartphone App should work correctly.

Various related links

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