Alexa’s about to get a lot smarter by breaking down the silos that separate skill features. Thanks to Alexa skill connections, Amazon is setting its sights on making interbots a reality for the popular voice platform. Alexa skill connections are just what they sound like: they connect skills together. So, your Alexa skills can make use of features from other available skills without requiring extra work on your part. Currently, the Alexa skill connections tool is in preview. This means there are limited skill connections for Alexa available. But we can expect more to be available in the future.
Adding Ease to Alexa Skills
Skill connections for Alexa is a great improvement to user experience as well as Alexa skill development. Amazon has already made it easy for anyone to develop their own skills with its custom skill builder for personal use or skill blueprints that provide full functionality with a set of templates. When skill connections for Alexa release, developers will be able to similarly add new features to their voice apps in a modular way that requires little extra coding.
Users will be able to make use of cross-app features without having to invoke other skills. This allows for a smoother user experience. Calling up extra features on the sly is also a big deal for Alexa users. Because, unlike Google Assistant actions, Alexa skills aren’t pre-installed. This means users must seek out skills before they can use their features. With Alexa skill connections, this frustration will be a thing of the past.
What Alexa Skill Connections Can Do Right Now
The preview for skill connections currently allows for five features available through Amazon partnerships. From HP, connected skills will be able to print images, PDFs and web pages. OpenTable has provided a feature for booking restaurant reservations. Uber allows for connecting skills to hail a ride.
Some of these skills are more niche than others, but there are a lot of possibilities. Amazon gave the example of a skill that books tickets which might also offer a ride to the user if they’re in a hurry. By translating the booking data to the taxi service, the user wouldn’t have to include any further input.
The first skill to make use of Alexa skill connections is AllRecipes. AllRecipes allows users to print out the recipes they find through the app. Previously, you might connect to a mobile device to provide information for the user to check later. Skill connections offer many alternative ways to share information without a screen or truly hands-free.
How to Get In on the Alexa Skill Connections Preview
First, consider carefully how your voice app could use the functionalities that are currently available with it. Singing up for the skill connection preview comes after it. Looking over your voice app analytics data to see what features users are requesting is a great place to begin. How might your skill be improved by booking a reservation, a ride or printing out information to keep?
Once you’ve come up with some ideas, submit this form to Amazon. First, you’ll need to include some basic information about your skill. Then, explain specific use cases for how it will utilize any of the current skill connections for Alexa that exist.