AlexaDev Tuesday: Local Skills

If you’ve been thinking about getting into skill development but are struggling to come up with ideas for skills you feel will appeal to the largest possible group of Alexa device owners, why not go in the opposite direction? Start thinking about building local skills.

 

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There is no Amazon rule or guideline stating that skills must be intended for use by, and be appealing to, the general public. Lots of devs have written highly localized skills, intended to provide a useful function to a specific and limited group. Note: I am not personally endorsing any of the example skills named below, they’re being used for illustrative purposes only.


For example, the Chef Bridgette skill provides the daily cafeteria menu for the Berkeley Carroll school in Brooklyn, New York. It’s a skill that’s very useful to families whose children attend that school, but of zero interest to anyone else. The Washington Computer Science Calendar skill keeps users informed about upcoming events at the University of Washington’s Computer Science and Engineering department, so its audience is also narrow (but probably most appreciative!). To build something similar, see Amazon’s How to Build a Calendar Reader for Alexa.


The My Bible Study skill is designed to help members of a home Bible study based in Hawthorne, CA memorize important Bible verses that have been selected from group discussions. This skill appears to be structured as a ‘fact of the day’ skill. To build something similar, see Amazon’s Alexa Skills Kit Template: Step-by-Step Guide to Build a Fact Skill.


The Mercy Hill Newsletter Flash Briefing skill allows users to hear snippets from the weekly newsletter for Mercy Hill Church in Shepherdsville, KY. To build something similar, see Amazon Developer documentation about building a custom Flash Briefing skill.


 

You get the idea. Think about what types of useful functions Alexa can perform, or useful information Alexa can provide, to your school, club, church, town, or group. Keeping the scope limited keeps the project more manageable, and keeping it highly targeted makes it easier to ensure you’re meeting the needs of your intended user group.

 

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