Amazon is targeting at making it possible for everyone to make their own Alexa skills with its new Alexa Skill Blueprints program. That implies now it is easier than ever to get Alexa to say whatever the user wants.
The third-party Alexa skills have been around for years, but writing one still actually meant that the users had to have a good understanding of computer coding, which is a lot of effort to ask of people simply to get Alexa to roast their family members. Programming Alexa, with Blueprints, is as easy as filling in a couple blanks. In order to get started, users could head over to blueprints.amazon.com, and log into whatever Amazon account they use for Alexa. Once they are logged in, they would be presented with a list of possible options for making their skill. The new Skill Blueprints essentially are easy-to-use templates for creating the users’ own Alexa skills. Building up the skills is easy. They just pick their template and fill out the blanks. Some of the templates are a little more involved than the others. The different storytelling tools have a fully interactive text editor, complete with sound effects and fill in the blank fields, which require being separately added.
Once the users have finished their blueprint-generated skill, they simply need to hit the “create skill” button to finalize. That would push it live to their account and whatever Alexa device(s) they have. The process takes a few minutes to roll out, so the users would need to be a little patient. Then, they just need to trigger the skill by asking Alexa, as they would any other Alexa integration. They would even be able to see a list of all their installed skills and edit them via the Alexa Blueprints site.
Amazon extends a whole lot of options in terms of what the users could build with the different blueprints, but they are very much limited to the sandbox that Amazon is offering here. So while there are a bunch of trivia templates, the users still have to play inside specific rules of Amazon that limits them to the text-based answers. This also implies that the users could not hijack the standard Alexa commands such as “play music” with any unrelated response.
The key difference between the Blueprint-generated skills and the full-fledged Alexa skills is the scope. While the developers could publish their skills to the broader Amazon Alexa skill marketplace for anyone to enjoy, the skills made with Blueprints are tied to the users’ Amazon account and would only function on their devices. That is both good and bad. If the users are making a skill with detailed data about their home for guests or a trivia game with their family history, they may not want that to be public. But that even means that there is no way to share their awesome, homemade trivia game with their friends if they wish to install it on their own devices.
The Alexa Skill Blueprints is rolling out, and it is going to be very much interesting to witness what people do with the new features in the upcoming days. But there already are millions of people who have Alexa devices in their homes, and Amazon has just made it possible for nearly all of them to customize those products like never before.