If you can code, you can create an Alexa skill — the programs that allow an Amazon Echo or similar device interact with you. What if you can’t code or you are just too lazy to do all the setup? Amazon now has Blueprints that can help anyone make a skill. The only problem is the skills you can create are pretty limited. In addition, they are only available to your Alexa devices.
The idea is simple. You start with a template — OK, a blueprint. This is a model application that does something like giving you a compliment or a joke on demand. When you open the blueprint, you’ll see a list of things it can say. You can edit the list, including adding or deleting things. Then you name the new skill. In a few minutes, your skill will be live on your devices.
Some of the blueprints are more involved than others. For example, the “First Letter” game lets you set a category and the items in the category. We couldn’t find any with really advanced content like picking off an RSS feed, searching, or anything algorithmic, we hope we will see more advanced examples eventually.
Is it useful? Maybe. But you won’t be able to use it to talk to your own hardware or software, which is probably what hackers mostly want. Meanwhile, you can use it to inflict your worst dad jokes on the rest of your household.
If you want to do a real skill, you’ll need to host some code somewhere. We’ve done it with Glitch, which is handy.
Amazon Echo Dot image: Michael Sheehan [CC BY 2.0].