DIY Alexa skills are coming to Amazon Echo
Build your own custom Alexa skills with simple fill-in-the-blanks templates, available now in the US.
It was a long time coming, but when Amazon's popular Echo smart speaker finally launched here Down Under, it brought with it a respectable number of Australia-specific Alexa skills enabling hands-free interaction with a variety of local services. From voice-controlled banking to ordering a Domino's pizza without lifting a finger, the constantly-growing list of skills ensures Amazon's virtual personal assistant is getting smarter almost by the day.
Apparently, that wasn't enough for Amazon, though, as the online retail giant today announced that US residents can design their very own Alexa skills from scratch, no programming expertise or engineering know-how required. Dubbed Alexa Skill Blueprints, this new feature provides a set of simple skill templates that you customise by filling in the blanks.
For example, the basic Custom Q&A template allows you to define a unique response for Alexa when asked specific questions. You could surprise your partner by setting them as the answer to "Alexa, who's the most amazing person in the world?", or you could offload the task of remembering your various account numbers and usernames by having Alexa recite them when asked.
For something a little more complex, Amazon has also built templates for serving up important information to house guests and babysitters, saving you the hassle of writing down where you keep the band-aids or what HDMI input to set the TV to for Foxtel. If you'd rather create something more light-hearted, there are plenty of trivia templates for building your own custom quizzes, too, as well as a flash card template for when you need to study and you don't have someone nearby to help you cram.
Right now, Alexa Skill Blueprints are only accessible to US residents, but it's highly likely Amazon will roll the feature out to Australia in the near future. More than 20 templates are currently available, with Amazon promising to add more on an ongoing basis.