Amazon recently launched Alexa Skill Blueprints in the US and UK, opening up its Alexa platform so that anyone can create a custom Alexa skill.
Skills are basically little Alexa apps that provide Amazon's assistant with additional features. For instance, there's a popular Jeopardy! skill, which, when enabled, allows Alexa to serve up a trivia game for you to play. There are tonnes of free skills available in the Alexa skill store. But now, thanks to the Alexa Skill Blueprints initiative, you can make and publish your own - and you don't need to be an app developer to do so.
What are Alexa Skill Blueprints?
Alexa Skill Blueprints essentially allows you to personalise your Alexa experience. You can create your own family trivia game skill, for instance, instead of using the existing Jeopardy! skill or some other trivia skill available. There is no coding knowledge required, because Amazon's offering "Blueprint templates" that make it easy for you to make an Alexa skill within minutes.
How many templates are available?
At launch, you can browse more than 20 templates across these four categories:
- Fun and Games
- At Home
- Learning and Knowledge
How to create a custom Alexa skill
First, watch these tutorials from Amazon:
Next, follow our step-by-step instructions:
- Visit the Alexa Skill Blueprints website (blueprints.amazon.com), then sign in to your Amazon account hooked up to your Alexa devices, and browse and select a skill Blueprint template that you like. If it's your first time using a template, follow the on-screen tutorial provided.
- There are three sections to a Blueprint template: Content, Experience, and Name. Each one comes with pre-filled content that can be used as-is or customised, meaning you can edit the examples or add your own. You can go back to a skill at any time to edit it or add more content.
- Once you're done editing the content and experience, name your skill and then click Next: Create skill. Your custom skill will then be ready to use in minutes on all Alexa devices associated with your Amazon account. Just ask Alexa to open your new skill.
We also have a gallery here that walks you through the process:
Can you publish a custom skill for all to use?
Yes. Amazon is letting anyone create and publish Alexa skills. There are currently more than 80,000 existing Alexa skills, but soon, the store should be growing significantly with user-generated custom skills. Amazon aiming this new functionality at content creators, including businesses, brands, organizations, publications, local sports teams, YouTubers, and others.
But anyone is allowed to create and publish a skill.
How to publish your custom skill
- Go to the Skills You’ve Made page.
- Select the skill you want to publish.
- Choose Publish to Skills Store in your menu options.
- If your skill is shared, you will need to revoke sharing to publish it.
How to use or invoke a custom Alexa skill
If you named your custom skill, "John's Birthday", you can just say, "Alexa, open John's Birthday skill." If it's a trivia skill, Alexa will open the skill and start asking you the trivia questions that you've added to the skill. If it's a story skill, you'll hear the story you added, etc.
Are there any examples of custom skills?
Yep. Watch these promo videos from Amazon for examples on custom skills you can create: