Amazon Alexa is one of the most capable voice assistants on the market. That’s largely due to the skills that let Amazon’s gadgets do far more than the abilities they come with out of the box.
Until recently, people had to wait for developers to make the skills they desired, which often meant submitting feature requests and enduring delays that lasted for weeks or months. But recently Amazon unveiled its Alexa Blueprints portal, which allows anyone in the U.S. to make skills for Alexa. That means that you can customize jokes with Alexa if you want. Here’s how to create an Alexa skill of your own.
Start by going to https://blueprints.amazon.com/ and clicking the Skills You’ve Made link at the top of the screen. You’ll then have to log in with your Amazon account details. After doing that, you’ll see fields displaying your name, contact details and address.
There’s also a Display Name field. People see the Display Name if you make skills available to others on the Alexa Skills Store. If you don’t want your first and last name displayed, you may want to create a new display name By verifying that your details are correct, you’re creating an Amazon Developer account.
Begin by selecting a blueprint. Think of the Alexa Blueprints as a collection of templates. There are more than 20 options, and they let you do things such as create a quiz game, make a fairy tale or customize Alexa’s responses to your questions. Browse the Featured Blueprints to get an idea of what’s available. Then scroll down and look for blueprints broken down into categories.
After finding an Alexa Blueprint template that strikes your fancy, click on it. Doing that opens a description of the blueprint, including the steps you’ll go through to create the skill and what you’ll be able to do after that. Notice the Play button and progress bar, too. It lets you hear a sample of a skill made with that blueprint. That material could inspire you for diving into the rest of the process and provide helpful ideas.
Confirm you want to start the blueprint-building process by clicking on the Make Your Own link near the top of the blueprint description.
The next screen you see after clicking the Make Your Own Link features numerous form fields. All of them already have content filled in, but you can delete any of it and fill in other details to personalize the content.
Use the blue Next button in the top right corner to progress to the next step after filling out the fields or leaving them as they are.
Choosing a name for your skill is one of the last steps to go through. Picking one might seem very straightforward, but you should keep Alexa’s limitations in mind.
For example, Amazon’s assistant still falls short when it comes to recognizing first and last names. So, if you use blueprints to make a family quiz game, it’s best to name it something like “The Family Fun Quiz” instead of “The Alexander Family’s Quiz.”
If you notice Alexa can’t understand you when you ask to use the skill, come back and pick a name that is a bit more simple. You can do that by choosing Skills You’ve Made at the top of the Alexa Blueprints homepage. Click a skill to select it, then the Edit button associated with it.
It only takes a few minutes until your new Alexa skill is ready to go. Look for the green notification message at the top of the blueprints page that indicates the skill is available. Once it is, it’s possible to use the skill on any Alexa-enabled device you own that’s linked to your Amazon account. You can also go to the Skills You’ve Made link at the top of the screen. It lists all skills created with blueprints. A Ready to Use status indicates an Alexa device will work with the skill.
You can start interacting the skill by using the “Alexa, open [skill name]” voice command. After triggering the skill, you can make sure it works as expected. If it doesn’t, you can make changes in the Skills You’ve Made section mentioned above.
There’s no limit to the number of skills you can create. Sometimes, you might make some that aren’t as useful or fun as you’d expect. The Skills You’ve Made area allows you to disable a skill, which means your Alexa devices won’t respond to it. Alternatively, you can delete a skill to remove it from your account.
With its blueprints section, Amazon makes it easy enough for even non-tech-savvy people to make Alexa skills. As a result, you can customize your smart speaker device with content that’s relevant to you and your family.