Amazon's Alexa voice assistant is already pretty smart, but it's getting smarter every day. Beyond being able to control many of our favorite connected gadgets, Alexa also has over 80,000 skills that teach the voice assistant new abilities. With skills, Alexa can order a pizza, call an Uber and even read your child a bedtime story.
While you can custom-make your own skills — no programming experience required — most of the skills come from businesses. If you want to order a pizza, you need to have the Domino's skill or the Pizza Hut skill installed. To call a ride, you need the Uber skill or Lyft skill installed. Sure, Alexa is good, but it's the ways you can expand Alexa's abilities that make it great.
And soon Alexa will have even more skill options. Now anyone can make their own skills publicly available on Amazon, which means more useful skills will join Alexa's repertoire. Building your own skills is incredibly easy, as Amazon provides over 50 blueprints that you can simply fill in to create a custom skill. We can already see a lot of potential for learning here, as students and teachers could make quiz or flashcard skills for study sessions.
Four new blueprints are joining the lineup, all focused on helping creators bring new content to your Alexa devices. Independent publishers will now be able to make their own Flash Briefings (which you can add to your Daily Briefing) or make skills that let Alexa read their blog posts aloud. These skills offer lots of possibilities, like easy access to local news and sports, or simply niche content that otherwise wouldn't find its way to Alexa.
The other two blueprints are tailored to specific organizations: one designed for universities and the other designed for religious or spiritual groups. In both cases, organizations will upload recorded classes, lectures or sermons, which Alexa will play on request. These blueprints seem particularly simple, making it extra easy for organizations to post their lectures — and for you to listen to them.
Whether you've been building skills you wish you could share or you just want more content on Alexa, these new features fit the bill. They're available now, so head to the Alexa blueprints page and start creating!
[Image credit: Amazon]