Amazon is looking to make it easier for users of its digital assistant, Alexa, find voice apps that extend its functionality. A newly discovered feature will have Alexa recommend third-party skills when it can’t answer certain questions.
Alexa Skill Recommendations
In our article about Amazon’s new Today in Music skill for the Alexa flash briefing, we told you how Alexa skills developed by Amazon will point you to its own skills and services. This is in the hopes of keeping Alexa users in the Amazon ecosystem as well as help increase revenue for the company. Now, it looks like things are starting to change and Alexa will recommend third-party skills for things it can’t help you with.
Check out the following video shot by voicebot.ai. It demonstrates how Alexa recommends skills from third-party developers when asked a question about a stock price it can’t answer. You can clearly hear Alexa recommend a non-Amazon developed skill to his question about Apple stock prices.
Don’t expect Alexa to always recommend a different skill, though. This new feature hasn’t been formally rolled out to all users. When asked about it, an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch: “Currently, in limited scenarios, Alexa will respond to certain questions by suggesting skills that may be helpful. We are excited for this feature to expand and to roll out to more customers over time to help them discover new skills and get information through Alexa.”
This newly discovered behavior is not yet completely reliable. You might not get it to work all the time (or at all) depending on what you ask. While it might offer you help by recommending other skills, you can be sure it will first point you to Amazon skills if available. And even though Amazon is leading the way in the smart speaker market, Google already has a skill discovery feature on its Echo competitor, Google Home speaker. App developers just need to inform Google of what an app can do, and it will be offered as a recommendation by way of Google Assistant.
Still, this is a good start to making voice apps more discoverable and easier to use. Amazon has over 15,000 skills available already for Alexa-powered devices. However, a lot of them are of poor quality or don’t work because the developer abandoned the project. Plus, some are not being used because consumers don’t know they exist. So, this is a good start to making voice apps more discoverable and easier to use.
If you own an Amazon Echo or another device that comes with Alexa, let us know about the favorite skills you that you have enabled in the comment section below.