How To Create An Alexa Skill Without Coding?
- Randall Mullins
Michael Brown Amazon’s Alexa devices can be a lot of fun, but her answers aren’t always the ones you’d like to hear. Now you can easily create your own personal Alexa skills with one of more than 20 pre-made Blueprints, swapping in your own content for Amazon’s.
It’s always been possible to write custom Alexa skills, but that involved computer programming or learning some sort of third-party tool. With Blueprints, that barrier is gone for anyone interested in creating private skills available just for devices registered to their own account. Here’s how it works.1.
Head to blueprints.amazon.com and scroll through the available templates. Categories include Fun & Games, Learning & Knowledge, At Home, and Storyteller. Sharon Machlis Some of the Alexa Skill Blueprint options Select the one that best fits what you’d like to do. Unless there’s an exact match between your needs and their titles, I suggest clicking through a couple that might be related. Click a Blueprint’s icon to choose it, and you’ll get a page explaining how it works. Sharon Machlis Opening the information screen for the Houseguest Alexa Skill Blueprint Within that Blueprint, click the Make Your Own button so you can see exactly what the content looks like. This will give you a better idea of whether the template will work for what you hope to do.
- For example, I always wanted a simple, private phone directory so I could ask Alexa for phone numbers.
- I thought “Houseguest” might be possible, since contact information is included in that skill.
- However, it just reads a list of all contacts, so the more generic Q&A skill seemed a better fit.2.
- On the Make Your Own screen, replace or delete any boilerplate template content.
There should be a button below the content to add more options if you need to, such as this in the Quiz Blueprint.3. You’ll next be asked to customize the skill “experience.” That includes the skill’s welcome message, goodbye message, and any additional randomized message you’d like Alexa to say when the skill is first summoned. Sharon Machlis Customizing a private Alexa skill created with an Alexa Skill Blueprint.4. Hit the Name button, and you’ll be asked to give your skill a name (again, unless you’re using the Custom Q&A template). Then click the Create Skill button.5. That’s pretty much it. A “waiting” screen will let you know what’s happening. Sharon Machlis Information as your custom private Alexa skill is being generated And in a couple of minutes or less, the skill should be ready Sharon Machlis Once you get the ready message, your private custom Alexa skill should be ready to use. You can see all the skills you’ve made at https://blueprints.amazon.com/skills, To use a custom skill, invoke its name like any other skill, such as “Alexa, open my home guide.” For Custom Q&A, simply ask the custom question you entered, without invoking a skill name. Sharon Machlis is Director of Editorial Data & Analytics at IDG, where she works on analyzing data (both for IDG Enterprise Web sites and journalism projects) and in-house editor tools in addition to writing and editing. Her tech interests include data visualization and analysis as well as the intersection of journalism and technology.
Can you monetize an Alexa skill?
With Alexa Developer Rewards, developers around the world can earn money for eligible skills that drive some of the highest customer engagement. Learn how to build engaging skills and get rewarded.
How long does it take to build an Alexa skill?
Amazon.com Inc.’s Alexa has more than 10,000 skills and the web giant has made it free for developers to host skills on its cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services. Alexa is the virtual assistant software that powers the voice-activated Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Tap devices.
Consumers can ask her to tell a joke, order a pizza, place an order on Amazon, No.1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, or perform thousands of other tasks. Revenue generated via Alexa-powered smart speakers increased 171% year over year in the two-month period of January and February, according to Slice Intelligence data.
Slice collects purchasing data from the email receipts of some 4 million consumers. Developers can build Alexa skills for free, but they have to pay to host the skill either on their own servers or using AWS. Amazon says developers with a published Alexa skill can apply a $100 AWS promotional credit and receive $100 per month in additional credits if they incur other AWS charges for the skill.
- The cost to host a skill varies depending on how popular and how complicated the skill is.
- For example, a popular skill used by hundreds of thousands of people every month that requires Alexa to ask for bank account information would cost more to host than a simple task such as telling a joke that only hundreds of consumers use.
A request to the server is categorized as every interaction with the skill, therefore saying, ” Alexa, ask 1-800-Flowers to order Tracy flowers, ” is one request and “A dozen reds roses, please,” is another request and “Deliver them on Friday, March 24” is yet another, for a total of three requests from that one skill.
- This $100-per-month program covers the costs for the vast majority of developers using AWS, and it’s also meant to encourage new developers to get started building robust and creative skills,” an Amazon spokeswoman says.
- Any developer can create an Alexa skill and submit it to Amazon for approval, much like submitting an iOS app to Apple Inc.
(No.2 in the Top 500) to publish in the App Store. An Alexa skill, however, is stored differently from an app. A consumer downloads an app to her smartphone and the app runs on her device, says Alexander Meissner, chief technology officer at voice technology developing firm VUI Agency, which builds Alexa skills for businesses.
“Skills have to be hosted in the cloud and have to be available to ask questions to, and this is a huge barrier to entry for small developers,” he says. Amazon wants to give developers the freedom to create robust skills to use on their platform without worrying about the cost, Meissner says. Even though Amazon is an e-commerce giant, many of Alexa’s skills are not shopping related.
Amazon wants Alexa to have a large number of skills so consumers will continue to use the software. After a consumer chooses to have an Echo in her home, she is unlikely to purchase another voice-activated, smart-home device like Google Home, Meissner says.
- Amazon also announced last week that any skills Alexa has on the Echo device will now work within the Amazon’s iOS shopping app.
- That means a consumer can use her voice to ask Alexa to search for products within Amazon’s app, or ask Alexa for non-shopping tasks, such as the news or weather, without needing to have an Echo device.
Here’s what happens on the back end when a consumer speaks to Alexa: The consumer needs to say the name of the company or service, such as “1-800-Flowers,” “Uber” or “Domino’s.” The software will interpret what the consumer says and the intent of the request, and then route the request to the appropriate skill.
For example, the software can interpret if a consumer says, “Alexa, ask Domino’s to order my favorite pizza,” or if she says, “Alexa, ask Domino’s to track my order.” This way, Amazon sends the business as specific a request as it can. The business will then send the answer back to Alexa, which will speak the answer.
“Amazon is taking the heavy lifting off of the developer,” Meissner says. If the consumer doesn’t specify the name of the business affiliated with the skill, saying only, “Alexa, order flowers,” for example, then Alexa will route the request to the most popular company affiliated with that skill in the category.
A consumer can also have preselected skills in the Alexa app, which is tied to her account, so Alexa will know that her preference is to order from 1-800-Flowers.com Inc. (No.57) if she gives a vague request. Meissner likens developing an Alexa skill to the processes of creating a chatbot. VUI Agency has developed 10 Alexa skills for businesses, most of which are in the financial services industry, he says.
VUI Agency charges businesses $5,000-$20,000 to build a skill and then $100 each month to host and monitor the skill, Meissner says. It takes the vendor between three weeks to three months to create a skill, he says. Retailers however don’t need a vendor to create an Alexa skill.
For example, Domino’s built its Alexa skill in-house. Amazon also provides developers with an Alexa Skills Kit, which is a collection of Application Program Interfaces, templates and guides, the Amazon spokesman says. With the how-to guide some skills in the trivia, facts and how-to sections can take less than an hour to build, the Amazon spokesman says.
What is Alexa skill builder?
Please note: The AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty exam retired on March 23, 2021. Any AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty certifications earned prior to March 23, 2021 will remain active for the standard three years from the date of issuance.
All associated benefits, including digital badges, will also remain active while the certification is active. We are no longer issuing new AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty certifications or recertifications. Explore available AWS Certifications, The AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty certification is intended for individuals who perform a role as an Alexa skill builder.
It validates a candidate’s ability to build, test, and publish Amazon Alexa skills.
How do I publish my Alexa custom skill?
Version your skill and submit an optional version message – Skill versioning captures a snapshot of your skill and each of its sub-resources when it’s submitted for certification. You can add a version message and manage the different skills that you publish by viewing the history of your skill versions.
To help identify a skill version, you provide a version message with every submission of your skill. You can then use this message along with the submission time to orient yourself to the appropriate version. The skill rollback feature depends on skill versioning. Tracking the versions of a skill allows you to accurately rollback to the appropriate snapshot.
To add an optional version message with the developer console
- Sign in to the ASK developer console,
- Select the Certification tab for the skill that’s ready for review.
- Select the Submission tab.
- Select your Publishing preference :
- Certify and publish now, After the skill passes the certification review, Amazon starts the process of publishing the skill to the Alexa Skills Store.
- Certify now and Publish Later, After the skill passes the certification review, the skill moves to a Certified status. You can then choose when to start the process of publishing the skill to the Alexa Skills Store.
- Enter a version message in the Version message box.
- Click Submit for review,
You can also add a version message to your skill with the submit-skill-for-certification CLI command. The developer console:
- Manage Skills in the Developer Console
- Create a Skill and Choose the Interaction Model
- Build Your Skill
- Test Your Skill
- Define Skill Store Details and Availability
- View Skill Usage Analytics
- View Your Payments and Earnings
Is there a limit to Alexa skills?
Usage limits – Amazon limits your developer.amazon.com account to 75 Alexa-hosted skills. When there are 75 Alexa-hosted skills on your account, you must delete an existing Alexa-hosted skill from your account before you can create another Alexa-hosted skill. For each Alexa developer account, Amazon sets resource usage to the following limits:
AWS Lambda: Unlimited free AWS Lambda requests used by your Alexa-hosted endpoint. Amazon S3: 25 GB of Amazon S3 storage, and 250 GB of data transfer out per month. Amazon DynamoDB: 25 GB of Amazon DynamoDB storage, 10M read and writes per month. AWS CodeCommit: 50 GB-month of storage and 10,000 Git requests per month.
You can view your monthly AWS usage for your hosted skills on the Hosting page of the Alexa developer console, You can also see your AWS resource usage from the Code tab by clicking on the Usage icon in the toolbar. If your usage exceeds these limits, you have 30 days to bring usage under the limit by moving at least one of your skills to a personal AWS account or other cloud services account.
Create and Manage Alexa-hosted Skills Use Media Files with Your Alexa-Hosted Skill Use DynamoDB for Data Persistence with Your Alexa-hosted Skill
Can I program Alexa with Python?
The Alexa Skills Kit SDK for Python simplifies the development of the back-end cloud service for your Alexa skill. A part of the Alexa Skills Kit, the SDK reduces the amount of code you need to write to process Alexa requests and responses and to handle other common skill tasks.