Alexa Skills Store + Happy Birthday Stupid Alexa Tricks

Mondays are normally devoted to Stupid Alexa Tricks, and I have a few, but the bigger news is this: Amazon has finally opened an Alexa Skills Store.

First, let’s all take a moment to wish Alexa a happy second birthday. Alexa turned two years old on 11/6/16, and has a few special Easter eggs ready for the occasion.

 

Happy 2nd Birthday Alexa

 

Say the wake word followed by any of the statements or queries below.

Happy birthday.

What do you want for your birthday?

How old are you?

Are you a Scorpio?

 

You Asked…And Asked…And Kept Asking…And Amazon Finally Delivered: Introducing the Alexa Skills Store
Over the weekend, Amazon quietly rolled out the Alexa Skills Store on its U.S. site. It doesn’t seem to be available on Amazon’s UK site as of this writing, but it will probably show up there after more skills are available to UK customers and the kinks have been worked out on the U.S. site. The screen shots pretty much tell the story on this. Images below link to the Alexa Skills Store.

 

You can access the Alexa Skills store from the main Amazon departments menu:

Skill Store On Amazon Dept Menu

 

The Alexa Skills Store landing page:

Alexa Skill Store Landing Page

 

The detail page for my own Focus Word skill shows the standard format:

skillstore3

 

You can search the Alexa Skills Store from the main search box at the top of any Amazon page:

Alexa Skills search from main Amazon search box

 

Search Is Still Iffy
I tried searching for the skills I’ve written by keyword, and they didn’t come up in the result set. For example, even though my Focus Word skill says it can be used for meditation in the description, it doesn’t show up in the result set on a search by keyword “meditation”. It seems as if, for now at least, you’ll need to know the name of the skill if you want to be sure to find it when searching Alexa Skills in the main Amazon search bar.

There are categories available once you get to the Alexa Skills Store landing page, but they’re not necessarily a reliable means of finding what you’re looking for, either. For example, Focus Word has an average review rating of 4/5 stars across 19 reviews, but doesn’t show up till page 5 in the Lifestyle category. Meanwhile, pages 1-3 are filled with skills that have as few as ONE review, but carry an average review rating of 5/5 stars.

Also be aware: the default sort listing is by “Featured”, and the skill detail page does not list the category for the skill.

 

Paid Skills Coming?
Many owners of Alexa-enabled devices, as well as Alexa Skill developers, are probably now wondering if the existence of this store means paid skills will soon be supported. As per usual Amazon is not sharing its plans, and I’ve heard no rumors one way or the other. The existence of a storefront -type interface would seem to be a step in that direction, but I have no inside knowledge on the matter.

Personally I hope paid skills do become a thing, because I suspect we’ll see skills of much higher quality once developers are allowed to charge for them. So far, all skill development has been done on a totally volunteer basis.

 

Keep sending those feature requests to Amazon via the General Feedback form in the Alexa app: as the launch of the new Alexa Skills Store proves, they are definitely paying attention.

 

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