Amazon announced, this week, “Alexa Blueprints”. This is a new way for any Alexa owner to create their own customized Alexa skills or responses – without knowing how to code. This is a really great idea, as it allows Alexa owners to create their own voice apps, like trivia games or bedtime stories. Alternatively, they can teach Alexa to respond to questions with answers they design. Like “who is the best dad in the world?”. And of course, the answer will be you.
Why I think this is a great feature, other than to remind yourself how amazing you are, is because you can set up some pretty helpful information. For example – say you’ve got a new babysitter, and she’s just not quite sure where you keep the first aid kit. You can program that information into Alexa, and provide the babysitter with all the information that you need.
Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Alexa had this to say about the feature:
“Alexa Skill Blueprints is an entirely new way for you to teach Alexa personalized skills just for you and your family. 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.”
And that’s what it’s all about right? Having the ability to make technology work for you. I think more and more technology is heading in this direction, and I’m happy to see that because it gives us so many more options. Not only that, but it gives you more control over what you need in your own life. Obviously, Alexa is great, but when it comes to specific needs in your life, sometimes it can be hard to customize.
How can you create your own skill or custom Alexa response?
- Go to Amazon’s website (www.blueprints.amazon.com) and select a template
There are over 20 templates across categories like Fun & Games, At Home, Storyteller and Learning & Knowledge. The templates are designed so that you can just fill in information 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. This is handy as you can try them out before making them 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. There are so many things that you could do, so make sure that you go to the website and check these out for yourself.
This definitely could give Amazon an advantage over Google for the time being. But like anything else, I’m sure all the features will start to become available on other devices.