Amazon’s wildly popular voice assistant Alexa has managed to make herself invaluable to many people because of the wide range of abilities available through Alexa Skills. Now, Amazon is reportedly getting ready to kill off the feature — well, kind of — in favor of a system that will simplify the experience for users.
Here’s what the process of getting Alexa to do something usually consists of: You open up the Alexa app and sort through Skills — essentially apps made by Amazon or third-party developers that allow the voice assistant to perform certain tasks — until you find one that does what you want. This system works because it’s familiar, operating just like the app store for your smartphone.
The problem is, the Alexa Skills market has gotten a little unwieldy. The library now tops more than 50,000 skills, and many of them lack reliable reviews and information that assure you the skill will do what you want.
Amazon wants to streamline that process for you and allow Alexa to perform basically any skill without requiring you to install it first. The company plans to eliminate the marketplace for individual skills, and instead allow Alexa to process requests and find the correct skill to perform the task asked of her, according to Tom’s Guide.
Under the new system, instead of asking Alexa to, “get me an Uber” in order to activate the individual Uber skill, you’ll just say, “get me a car to the airport” and Alexa will use context clues to figure out what you mean. The voice assistant will draw upon your location, subscriptions, services, and history to determine what app it is you want to use.
“We don’t want Alexa to be like your smartphone, where you have 50 apps on your home screen,” Rohit Prasad, Alexa’s vice president and head scientist, said to Tom’s Guide. “The way we’re solving that is that you’ll just speak, and we will find the most relevant skill that can answer your query.”
While the change is on the docket for Amazon, it is not expected to be made any time soon. The company is reportedly still in the early stages of figuring out just how to make a Skills-free Alexa work, and there are plenty of challenges with making sure the A.I. correctly processes and understands the language of each request. But at some point in the future, you will likely be able to ask Alexa to do something for you, and it will automatically figure out how best to fulfill that request.
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