The World's First Alexa Widget

With the public release of Alexa Widgets announced for developers this week, I thought it would be a good time to write a little about my experience working with the fine folks at Amazon on the world’s first third party Alexa widget that we developed and deployed at Cookpad 16 months before this public release back in December 2021.

Update: Amazon published an interview I did with them about widgets on their blog Three questions with Miles Woodroffe, Global CTO of Cookpad

Having worked closely with Amazon on the Alexa Skill for Cookpad, we had gained great trust delivering and iterating on a solid service at scale, and also working with their product and engineering teams directly on pre-release features like “Send to Phone” successfully. The Cookpad Alexa Skill has enjoyed a “First Party” (1P3P) integration whereby users simply asking for a recipe “Alexa, dime una recetta de torrijas” would be directed to the Cookpad service.

Cookpad Alexa Skill! The Cookpad Alexa skill as rendered on an Echo Show 8 device.

This 1P3P arrangement is akin to the “twitter firehose” whereby a LOT of traffic is sent to the Cookpad skill. Usually to invoke a third party skill the user would need to say “Alexa, open Cookpad and find a recipe for pancakes”, but in the 1P3P case, for Spain, Mexico, US Spanish and Brasil, users just asking for a recipe would find there way to our skill. Our data shows around 85% of traffic comes from this “firehose”! Note, quality of traffic is a different topic. It’s very evident that users who specifically say “Alexa, open Cookpad” are much more engaged in general.

Cookpad Alexa Widget! The Cookpad Widget on an Echo Show 15 device (shown on the left).

When the Echo Show 15 was announced in 2021, Amazon Spain asked us if we would be interested in building the first Widget for the platform. There was a lot of uncertainty about what this would be. The documentation was minimal and information flow initially rather slow, but I was particularly excited about the concept, so I persevered, constantly following up with the team in Seattle over a period of several months. The main issues were around changing specifications, and getting my test devices provisioned in the testing pool since there were no other external partners working on this.

The message here is perseverance. It would have been easy to drop it and wait until Amazon were ready, but my interest in this new capability, coupled with the feeling that it was “so close” so many times kept me interested and motivated enough to see it through.

The reward was ours was the only non-Amazon widget on the devices when they shipped. Add to that there were only 12 widgets at launch in total, this was a great opportunity to get Cookpad in front of more home cooks and help them make every day cooking fun!