As anyone who has experience with Amazon Alexa can tell you, there is plenty the virtual home assistant can do. We ask a question and it provides an answer; we want it to remind us of an upcoming appointment on our schedule, and it will.
Of course it can do so much more, to the point where most of us probably don't even realize what all it is capable of. Alexa has oh so many skills that we don't even utilize simply because we don't realize they exist.
That's disappointing for developers, who spend time creating skills that people would use if they were aware of them. Because of that, Amazon is rolling out a tool that will make all of Alexa's skills easier to discover.
It will be like having Alexa on steroids
With more than 40,000 third-party skills available, it can be difficult for some to stand out, which is why this new feature is being put in place. The idea is that if developers will have an easier time getting their skills to us, we will be able to add more to Alexa.
The more Alexa knows, the better she can help us - right? Amazon is calling it the CanFulfillIntentRequest interface, and it is meant to augment the system that is already in place.
Before, Amazon used a learning machine to help users discover specific skills. Now, if you ask Alexa for something, say instructions on how to perform a task, it could end up pulling from a third-party developer's skills to help.
Here's an example: If you say "Alexa, where is the best Italian restaurant in New York City?" Alexa will use CanFulfillIntentRequest to ask restaurant skills if it can understand and fulfill the request. A restaurant database from California might be able to understand the request, but wouldn't be able to fulfill it. Whereas a New York restaurant database could do both.
The more you teach her, the more she knows
Alexa is only as useful as the skills it knows, and with quicker access to a greater library it will be even more powerful. Amazon is hopeful this will create more natural, smoother interactions with the device.
It is all part of Amazon's ultimate goal, which is to allow Alexa to continue growing. Gaining skills is an important step forward for the virtual home assistant, and being able to rely on outside developers allows for so much more to be created and learned.
Ultimately, Alexa's ability to keep learning at a rapid pace could separate it from some of the other, similar devices that are on the market.
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