One of the most requested features on the Alexa forums has been Notifications. It is both developers who want to add notification features to their skill, as well as users who wonder why they can't ask Alexa to notify them of some event. The closest thing to notifications we have had were by setting a timer, where the Echo would wake up after the specified time and notify the user. However, this functionality was only available to Amazon internal developers and third party developers had no such support.
Then Amazon announced the ability to make calls with the Echo. It was obvious that the ability to add notifications was present, just not yet made available to outside developers. In every case, it is similar to the way iOS or Android have added notifications. The idea is that a skill can alert a user at a certain time and provide some sort of auditory information.
This has been a long time in coming, and I am excited for the support. I am sure there are a ton of details that Amazon had to work through to implement this feature and a lot of specific use-cases to consider.
It is exciting to report that Amazon has announced that Alexa will add support for third party developers to add notifications. It is not said when this was available, and was announced right before Google I/O (probably to put more focus on Alexa). Go on over to the signup page and make sure you are alerted when notification support is made available to developers.
It appears that there are changes to the Amazon Skill Kit (ASK) which is just what I expected. As well as changes to the Alexa Voice Service. This is the toolkit that lets you create your own Alexa style device. This means that notifications might not make it to all the third-party products (i.e. non-Echo devices) which support Alexa. Most likely, the manufacturer will add the capability, but it might take a little extra time.
It is also nice to see the multi-colored, spinning lights at the top of the Echo using other colors. We always see the blue swirling, red is when tell it not to listen, and orange is used during setup, but that is about all we have seen up to now. The swirling green color might be used for notifications as that is what is also used to alert users to a call.