Amazon’s relentless drive to transform its Alexa digital assistant into a full-on programming platform continues, with a new “Skill Blueprints” program that will allow people with minimum coding knowledge to code voice-activated skills.
The program, accessible via blueprints.amazon.com, offers templates for various skills; all you need to do is fill in the appropriate fields. For instance, a user could customize the “Houseguest” template to inform visitors about the neighborhood, how something in the house works, or why they should never, ever unlock the door to the basement after midnight.
As you might expect, Skill Blueprints is a sandbox with some very high walls: Amazon won’t let you map your customized skill over an existing command, for example, which prevents you from engaging in all sorts of hilarious pranks. That being said, the templates on offer will allow Alexa owners to do a bunch of neat things, from providing a verbal guide for Airbnb guests to building a fun quiz game for the kids.
Amazon has already opened the Alexa platform to developer monetization: as of March 2018, there are eight skills categories that will pay out sweet, sweet cash based on usage. Although developers can monitor how much audiences are interacting with their apps, there’s no leaderboard or other, “official” way of ranking performance. Nor has Amazon announced the level of interaction necessary to start drawing payments, although a February posting on the official Alexa blog insisted that “millions of dollars” have already been paid out to coders around the world.
Our recent examination of job postings on Dice shows a rise in job postings involving Alexa, which is no surprise considering the number of devices and services that have adopted the platform as their “voice.” And as digital assistants become more sophisticated and ubiquitous, expect more developer opportunities to rise for both Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri.