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On Thursday Amazon announced a new feature designed for its line of smart speakers. It is called “Alexa Skill Blueprints,” and it allows users to create custom skills for Alexa without requiring any programming knowledge. In just a few simple steps users will be able to generate skills and voice apps based on preprogrammed templates.
“Alexa Skill Blueprints is an entirely new way for you to teach Alexa personalized skills just for you and your family,” said Amazon’s Alexa Vice President Steve Rabuchin. “You don’t need experience building skills or coding to get started—my family created our own jokes skill in a matter of minutes, and it’s been a blast to interact with Alexa in a totally new and personal way.”
Creating a skill is relatively straightforward. Amazon has an Alexa Blueprints page set up with 21 templates (more to come). Clicking on a blueprint takes users to an overview page. Here they can listen to a sample of the skill and read instructions on how to create and use the app.
From the overview, users click the “Make Your Own” button and are taken to a form page. The forms are already filled out with examples and can be used as is, but the fun comes with editing the default material to make them personalized.
For example, the quiz blueprint by default has four questions, answers, and follow-up facts. Each can be edited to suit a user’s needs, and there is a button to add more. Handy for the student wanting to practice for an exam in a fun quiz show way.
Once editing is complete, users will click the “Experience” button. Here users edit things like the introduction (what Alexa says when you open the app), player greetings, sound effects for right answers and winners, and more. What is available on the Experience page varies by template context.
After that is done, the “Name” button will take them to the page where they can name the skill. This will be the name users use to open the skill. For example, "Alexa, open My Science Quiz."
Once named, all that is left to do is to hit the “Create Skill” button. Doing this adds the skill to the devices associated with the user’s Amazon account.
For now, Alexa Blueprints are only available to customers in the United States. Amazon did not indicate if or when the feature would be available in other regions.