Alexa Can Learn New Commands
Amazon this morning is introducing “Alexa Blueprints,” a new way for any Alexa owner to create their own customized Alexa skills or responses, without needing to know how to code. The idea is to allow Alexa owners to create their own voice apps, like a trivia game or bedtime stories, or teach Alexa to respond to questions with answers they design – like “Who’s the best mom in the world?,” for example.
You could also create a skill that includes helpful information for the babysitter, which could be triggered by the command, “Alexa, open My Sitter,” Amazon suggests.
“Alexa Skill Blueprints is an entirely new way for you to teach Alexa personalized skills just for you and your family,” explained Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa, in a statement about the launch. “You don’t need experience building skills or coding to get started—my family created our own jokes skill in a matter of minutes, and it’s been a blast to interact with Alexa in a totally new and personal way.”
To build your own skill or custom Alexa response, users will visit the website blueprints.amazon.com and select a template.
At launch, there are over 20 templates across categories like Fun & Games, At Home, Storyteller, and Learning & Knowledge.
The templates are designed so you can just fill in the bits and pieces that make them personalized to your needs. You won’t need to go through a series of complicated steps, and no technical knowledge is required. The templates are even pre-filled and work as is, if you just want to try them out before making your own.
After you’ve filled in your own content, you name it and publish with a click. This makes the skill or response available to all Alexa-enabled devices associated with your own Amazon account. But it’s not available to the public or the Alexa Skills Store.
Families with Echo devices, in particular, seem to be a heavy focus for Alexa Blueprints. Kids have readily taken to Alexa, and today there are nearly 500 public Alexa skills built for kids alone. Families also often have private jokes and bedtime rituals where Alexa could come in – offering to “tell a Dad joke” or “start Anna’s story,” for instance. Plus, Alexa is designed as a home companion – controlling smart devices, playing music, setting timers, and offering information like news and weather, among other things.
But families aren’t the only ones would could take advantage of Alexa Blueprints. College students could use the flash cards custom skill when studying, while a group of friends or roommates could design their own trivia games. And Airbnb owners could set up a skill for their houseguests.
After you’ve created the custom skill, it will be available in the Skills You’ve Made webpage on the Blueprints site. You’ll also be able to enable, disable and delete your skills.
The feature could give Amazon an edge in selling its Echo speakers to consumers, as it’s now the only platform offering this level of customization – Apple’s HomePod is really designed for music lovers, and doesn’t support third-party apps. Google Home also doesn’t offer this type of customization.
All three are competing to be the voice assistant people use in their home, but Alexa so far is leading by a wide margin – it still has roughly 70 percent of the smart speaker market.
Alexa Blueprints are available today in the U.S. only.
The full list of Alexa Blueprints available at launch is below:
- Custom Q&A: Customize responses to your questions
- Houseguest: Make your guests feel at home with quick access to important info
- Babysitter: Help your sitter find things, remember steps and get important info
- Pet Sitter: Help your pet sitter care for your favorite animal
Fun & Games
- Family Jokes: Create a list of your favorite jokes for when you need a laugh
- Trivia: Create your own multiple choice trivia game on any topic
- Inspirations: Curate a list of your favorite inspirational quotes
- Family Trivia: Play together and brush up on family history
- Bachelorette Party: Play to find out how well the bride’s friends know her
- Birthday Trivia: Play to see who knows the birthday girl or boy best
- Burns: Roast your friends and family with lighthearted burns
- Compliments: Flatter your favorites with a list of custom compliments
- Double Trouble: Find out which couple knows each other best with this customizable game
- First Letter: Play a game of categories starting with a certain letter
- Adventure: Write an adventure story where your child is the hero
- Fairy Tale: Customize an interactive prince and princess-themed tale
- Sci-Fi: Create an interactive story with a far-out theme
- Fable: Create a short narrative with a moral of the story
Learning & Knowledge
- Flash Cards: Study, test yourself, and master any subject by voice
- Facts: Keep a list of facts on your favorite topic, all in one place
- Quiz: Challenge yourself and others with a customizable quiz