Alexa skills are all well and good, but if you want to get one published, you need to program it yourself or have thousands of pounds to spend on a developer to make one.
Now, though, Amazon has rolled out Blueprints, which allows budding Skills sorcerers to make their own skills, no coding required! Of course, there are limitations to what you can do with Blueprints, but on the plus side, it is completely free to try out if you own any Amazon Echo device. So, what are Blueprints and how can you get involved?
Here’s everything you need to know...
1) Head to blueprints.amazon.co.uk
Want to make your own Alexa skill?
Just go to blueprints.amazon.co.uk, sign in with your Amazon Alexa account details, and you can get cracking right away. There are templates you can adapt, such as bedtime stories for your kids, or you can get stuck in and create them yourself.
The basic idea, though, is that Blueprints allows you to create a set of pre-programmed responses to whatever questions you might ask it. Like what? Well, that leads us on to our next point…
2) The best feature? A guide for guests in your home
Probably the best and most practical use of Blueprints we saw was as a guide for visitors to your home — think friends, family, babysitter, dogsitter — basically anyone who might be there when you’re not.
You can program in a bunch of responses to common questions a visitor might ask: “What’s the wifi password?”, “Where’s the toilet paper?”, “Where do you keep all your money?”. Maybe not the last one, but setting this up might allow you to avoid a couple of phone calls from the babysitter the next time you’re out on date night.
3) It’s also good for kids
The second best use for Blueprints from what we saw was keeping kids entertained. You can write a story where your daughter is the hero of the story, or create responses to things they may ask, such as “what time do I have to go to bed?” (one Amazon rep had it programmed to say that ALL children go to bed at 8pm).
Another good use is for setting tests for your kids if they’ve got tests or exams coming up — you can get it to ask your kid geography questions about the capital cities, for example.
4) It’s can also be used for amusing/teasing people in your house
One of the more popular uses for Blueprints is bound to be the ability to record specific responses for certain questions, such as “who’s the best mum/dad/person in the world?”.
Of course, that cuts both ways, and you could get Alexa to burn your loved ones if you have a sibling who deserves a grilling, for example. If you’re particularly insecure, you can also get Alexa to drop compliments when you (or anyone else) needs them, such as “your smile lights up the room”.
5) You can share your skills with friends
You will need an Amazon Alexa account, and therefore some sort of Echo device, in able to log in and use the service. But you can share anything you create with friends, simply by sharing a link to your creation via email, WhatsApp or any other messaging service.
Amazon Blueprints is available now in the UK and the US.