I’m publishing this week’s Fast Tips Friday a day early because there’s big news for US-based owners of Alexa devices: Alexa Blueprints. If you’ve ever wished you could make a custom quiz skill for things like: kids’ weekly vocabulary word lists or SAT studying, a compliment generator with personalized compliments, a personalized fact skill to help a houseguest, babysitter or dogsitter know where to find things in your home, or a sort of personalized notepad skill where you can create and refer back to lists of where you’ve put things (think: hiding presents before Christmas), family members’ birthdays, or similar information, Alexa Blueprints are here to help make your skill fantasy a reality—no programming required, and the service is totally FREE to use!
Alexa Blueprints Are Pre-Programmed Skill Templates: You Provide The Content
With Alexa Blueprints, you simply fill out a series of online forms to tell Alexa what questions or statements you want her to respond to, and what you want her to say in response. You can even include sound effects, selected from a very large library provided by Amazon. Then you name your skill and publish it. Once published, your custom skill is only available to Alexa devices registered to your Amazon account, it cannot be accessed by the general public and will not be listed in Amazon’s skill store.
Alexa Skill Blueprints available at launch include:
Custom Q&A: Customize responses to your questions
Houseguest: Make your guests feel at home with quick access to important info
Babysitter: Help your sitter find things, remember steps and get important info
Pet Sitter: Help your pet sitter care for your favorite animal
Fun & Games
Family Jokes: Create a list of your favorite jokes for when you need a laugh
Trivia: Create your own multiple choice trivia game on any topic
Inspirations: Curate a list of your favorite inspirational quotes
Family Trivia: Play together and brush up on family history
Bachelorette Party: Play to find out how well the bride’s friends know her
Birthday Trivia: Play to see who knows the birthday girl or boy best
Burns: Roast your friends and family with lighthearted burns
Compliments: Flatter your favorites with a list of custom compliments
Double Trouble: Find out which couple knows each other best with this customizable game
First Letter: Play a game of categories starting with a certain letter
Adventure: Write an adventure story where your child is the hero
Fairy Tale: Customize an interactive prince and princess-themed tale
Sci-Fi: Create an interactive story with a far-out theme
Fable: Create a short narrative with a moral of the story
Learning & Knowledge
Flash Cards: Study, test yourself, and master any subject by voice
Facts: Keep a list of facts on your favorite topic, all in one place
Quiz: Challenge yourself and others with a customizable quiz
The Easy Steps
Amazon has done all it can to make using Alexa Blueprints easy and fun. The screen shots below show some of the screens you’ll use to create your Alexa Blueprints skill, and as you can tell, the process is not so very different from following a step-by-step “wizard” of the type you might’ve used in an MS Office program. Amazon provides helpful tips for you every step of the way, as well as online help and support.
Here you see the Alexa Blueprints home screen, where you can select from the many available templates.
In Step 1, you’ll create your custom content. The example shown below is for a customized quiz or trivia type of skill.
Here’s another example of an Alexa Blueprint content creation screen for an informational skill of the type you might create to help a babysitter, houseguest or petsitter.
Here’s the screen where you’ll specify what Alexa should say and any sound effects you want her to play when your skill first launches.
The last steps involve naming your skill and creating its “invocation”, or the phrase you want people to say to launch the skill.
Whether you want to make a custom Easter egg skill, a personalized quiz game based on a topic near and dear to your heart (but maybe not popular enough for a public skill to have been written for it), a baby or wedding shower trivia skill, or something else, check out these resources to try your hand at creating a custom, private skill of your own:
Alexa Skill Blueprints Demo Videos – view some short video demos to see what’s possible and get inspiration for your own skills
Alexa Blueprints Portal – go here when you’re ready to get started, and login with your usual Amazon login credentials
Alexa Blueprints let anyone who owns an Alexa device try their hand at Alexa skill creation.