New Amazon tool lets users customize Alexa's responses

Todd Singleton
April 20, 2018

It is called "Alexa Skill Blueprints", and it allows users to create custom skills for Alexa without requiring any programming knowledge.

"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.

Alexa already has more than 30,000 skills, and this move is created to make it easier for non-developers to customize the digital assistant. Amazon is providing pre-built templates in the Alexa Skill Blueprints app to help users get started with making custom questions and answers of their own.

On Thursday Amazon announced a new feature designed for its line of smart speakers. Here they can listen to a sample of the skill and read instructions on how to create and use the app. Developers who want to add to Alexa's abilities can write code that works with Alexa in the cloud, letting the smart assistant do the heavy lifting of understanding and deciphering spoken commands. Amazon hasn't set a limit on how many skills can be created by users, but it has set a limit on where the feature is available as it's now only live for users in the US with no word on when it will expand to other regions.

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But families aren't the only ones would could take advantage of Alexa Blueprints. Each blueprint comes with pre-filled content that can be used as-is or customized as you like.

Other examples of skills you can create include ones for helping a pet or baby sitter find things around your house; virtual flash cards to help you study; and a Bachelorette Party trivia game. Kids have readily taken to Alexa, and today there are almost 500 public Alexa skills built for kids alone. Users will just need to ask Alexa to open the skill. After naming your trivia game, it will be accessible within minutes on all of the Alexa devices associated with your Amazon account. If you have more than one Echo, Alexa responds intelligently from the Echo you're closest to with ESP (Echo Spatial Perception).

The feature is rolling out in the United States today.

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