Amazon just released a new way for Alexa users to customize their experience with the virtual assistant. New Alexa Skill Blueprints allow users to create their own personalized Alexa skills, even if they don’t know how to code. These “blueprints” act as templates for making questions, responses, trivia games, narrative stories, and other skills with customizable answers unique to each user. Amazon already has a number of resources for developers to make the new skills they want, but until now, users have had to work within the confines of pre-made Alexa skills.
Currently, more than 20 templates are available on the new Alexa Skill Blueprints website, all ready for Alexa users to personalize with their own content. Let’s say you want to make a personalized trivia game for your family and friends: choosing the Trivia blueprint brings up more information about how this particular blueprint works, including audio examples and instructions on how to fill out the template. Click “Make Your Own” to then write your own trivia questions, possible answers, and choose which answer is correct for each question. You can even add sound effects like applause to make the game feel more real. After naming your trivia game, it will be accessible within minutes on all of the Alexa devices associated with your Amazon account.
Blueprints range in complexity and usefulness—some are just for fun, like the various types of trivia games you can customize. Others, like the Houseguest and Flashcards blueprints, could end up being quite useful. Houseguest lets Alexa answer questions about your home, such as “How do you turn on the TV?” or “Where’s the extra toilet paper” and could be helpful if you rent your space on AirBnb, or simply have a friend staying over when you’re out of town. Flashcards let Alexa quiz students on any topic’s terms and definitions using review and test modes. The most ambiguous and easiest to play around with is the custom Q&A blueprint, which lets you program Alexa to provide a specific answer to a custom question.
Any blueprint-made skills you make will show up on the “Skills You’ve Made” section of the blueprints website. While these skills will exist for your Amazon account until you delete them, they aren’t posted to the general Alexa Skills score, so strangers will not have access to your couple’s trivia game that’s personalized for you, your spouse, and your best coupled friends.
While Alexa has thousands of skills available already, most cannot provide the level of personalization that blueprints now can. Variety widens Alexa’s appeal, but customization can deepen it. Most Alexa devices like the Echo live in homes and act as hands-free home helpers, so it makes sense for Amazon to allow users to customize their experience with Alexa even further. The more Alexa can be personalized for each user, the more likely those users will be to call upon the virtual assistant for help, entertainment, and everything in between.
The downside is that Alexa Skill Blueprints are only available to US customers at the moment. It’s unclear whether they will become available for non-US users, but Amazon does plan to add more blueprints to the lineup as time goes on.