Amazon is getting ready to ship its first Echo device with a built-in display. Powered by the company’s Alexa Voice Service, the new Amazon Echo Show will be able to do everything other Echo products can, plus let you make voice and video calls, monitor security camera feeds, and view text and images to go along with the audio responses delivered by Alexa.
But the Echo Show isn’t the only Alexa-powered product with a screen. You can also use Alexa on recent Amazon Fire Tablets and Fire TV devices. And Amazon has introduced a new feature called Display Cards that developers can use to add visual information to Alexa skills on any Alexa-powered device with a screen.
Since Amazon is encouraging third-party hardware makes to incorporate Alexa into their device, that could include smartwatches, smartphones, tablets, TVs, or IoT devices such as smart refrigerators, thermostats, or gateways.
Right now Amazon provides guidelines for Display Cards for tablets and for TVs. But the general idea is the same. Display Cards can show Now Playing information so you can see album art and playback controls while media is playing. They can also show Calendar & List information such as your upcoming agenda items or to-do or shopping lists.
Weather cards can display current conditions and forecasts, while General Knowledge cards can provide information from Alexa skills, Wikpedia searches, or other answers to your questions.
Amazon notes that cards designed for tablet-style devices can feature higher levels of visual complexity than TV cards, which are designed to be viewed from 6-8 feet away. TV cards should also be designed so that you can interact with them using a 5-way remote control, while tablet-style cards can support touch input.