Let the chaos begin! You can finally create your own Alexa Skills

You can now share your Alexa Skill Blueprints via text, email, or social media

Who says you need to be a developer to create skills for Amazon Alexa? Certainly not Amazon. In April, the company launched Alexa Skill Blueprints, heralded as a new and easy way for anyone and everyone to create customized Alexa functions and responses. And now, Amazon is helping its users share their personalized Alexa Skill Blueprints via email, text, WhatsApp, or social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. That means that you can now create special skills for your best friend’s birthday and share it with her directly, or create flashcards and share them with a study group.

With the introduction of Blueprints, you can have your favorite smart home assistant answer questions like, “Alexa, who’s the best child in the world?” or have her keep track of family milestones with commands like, “Alexa, open Family Trivia.” Blueprints will allow Alexa users to create experiences that are unique to themselves and their families. Best of all, there is no coding skill needed.

At launch, more than 20 Skill Blueprints were made available, though this number has already grown. In honor of Mother’s Day, Amazon released three new Alexa Skill Blueprints — All About Mom, World’s Best Mom, and Game Show. Similarly, for Father’s Day, Amazon debuted a skills template to celebrate all the wonderful dads in the world.

The skills you choose to create — parent-centric or not — will appear exclusively on the devices registered to your Amazon account, so you won’t have to worry about sharing private information with others.

“Alexa Skill Blueprints is an entirely new way for you to teach Alexa personalized skills just for you and your family,” Steve Rabuchin, vice president of Amazon Alexa, siad in a statement. “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.”

Using Alexa Skill Blueprints promises to be quite straightforward. Users only need to fill in the blank with certain answers, customizing responses to queries like “Alexa, what is the best city?” or “Alexa, who has the best sense of humor?” To get started, you need to visit the Alexa Skill Blueprints website, where you will find the various Blueprints available across four categories: Fun and Games, At Home, Storyteller, and Learning and Knowledge. While each blueprint comes with predetermined content, you can customize them based on your own preferences.

In the Fun and Games category, for example, you can create a Skill filled with favorite family jokes, birthday trivia, and a bachelorette party.

Want to focus on facts and information? Select the Learning and Knowledge category and choose between a Skill called Quiz for open-ended questions, flash cards for any subject to study or test yourself, or Facts to build a Skill containing a list of facts on any topic.

The At Home category could save a lot of time if you build skills for Houseguests, Babysitters, or Pet Sitters. Set up the Skill and then you can edit as information changes. Airbnb hosts and guests could find this skill a major help.

Fancy yourself an author or want to build a collection of your favorite stories with your own friends and family playing major roles? The new Alexa Storytell Skill Blueprint gives you the tools to create and save your own fairytales, sci-fi, fables, or adventure stories.

Amazon is not limiting the number of skills you create, and you can continue to edit your skills as you use them more frequently. For the time being, it would appear that the new function is only available to customers in the U.S., but if it proves popular, it certainly seems likely that Amazon will share the love and bring Alexa Skill Blueprints to further markets.

Updated on June 16: You can now share Blueprints directly via email, text, and social media. 

Product Review

“World’s Smartest Camera” is let down by not-so-smart omissions

Ooma Butterfleye’s high quality, auto-adaptive imaging, wire-free operation and free cloud storage delights, but there are some flaws to be aware of, including a lack of proper night vision.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (August 2018)

Prime Video gives subscribers access to a host of great movies, but sifting through the massive library isn't easy. Lucky for you, we've sorted the wheat from the chaff. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Smart Home

Alexa can play smart home camera video recaps on Echo, Fire devices

Now you can ask Alexa to show the last recorded video from smart home security cameras on Echo Show, Echo Spot, Fire TV, and Fire Tablets. Video replay is enabled for Ring, August, Arlo, Cloud Cam, and Logitech cameras.
Smart Home

Cortana and Alexa can now call each other as new relationship begins

Microsoft and Amazon announced a public preview of Cortana and Alexa integration. U.S. customers can now open Cortana with Alexa and vice versa. Basic functions such as calendars and shopping lists are available with the preview.
Smart Home

Amazon to launch Alexa in Mexico later this year, following June debut in France

After successful launches in Germany, Japan and India, Amazon launched its Alexa-enabled Echo devices in France in June with localized features. Alexa will launch in Mexico later this year.
Product Review

Philips Hue’s Color Ambience makes smart home lighting simple and stylish

It’s not the cheapest smart lighting available, but for those seeking style and sophistication, it’s certainly the best.
Smart Home

Hands-on with the Glas, the most beautiful thermostat you’ve ever seen

Johnson Controls today opened the doors for consumers to buy Glas, the company's answer to Nest and Ecobee, the Honeywell Lyric, and basically every other company that thought it would turn that simple round dial on the wall on its ear.
Smart Home

The Glas thermostat is now available and works with Cortana, Alexa, and Google

Microsoft just debuted its very own smart thermostat (the first that it's created), and of course, it can be controlled via voice with Microsoft's virtual assistant Cortana. It also works with Alexa and Google Assistant.
Smart Home

How to set up your Lenovo Smart Display

Here's how to set up your Lenovo Smart Display, including what information you need to provide to the Home app and how to choose the right Google Assistant settings for your new smart screen.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Smart Home

Fraudulent sales of home alarm systems are on the rise nationwide

According to a new consumer survey from the Consumer Federation of America, there are increasing reports of bad actors using scare tactics and manipulation to sell fraudulent alarm systems.
Smart Home

A school district subsidizes a tiny home community for teachers

The lack of affordable housing in Arizona's Vail school district prompted the plan for a community of tiny homes reserved for educators. Other cities in the U.S. use the tiny abodes for homeless and economically disadvantaged people.
Smart Home

Kroger supermarket chain tests driverless grocery deliveries in Arizona

Kroger and autonomous delivery innovator Nuro began a pilot program in Scottdale, Arizona, for grocery home deliveries with Prius cars to test the self-driving concept. The first tests do not use the purpose-built Nuro vehicle.
Smart Home

Vitamix recalls 100,000 blender containers after multiple ‘lacerations’

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of about 105,000 Vitamix blending containers after 11 customers reported accidents, including lacerations due to a design flaw in the product.