Alexa voice skills are in different silos, requiring users to give multiple voice commands to complete a series of tasks. But with the latest Amazon update, these skills can work with one another.
Amazon has announced a new development tool called Skill Connections, which allows developers to connect their voice features.
A use case provided by Amazon is that, when users book a ticket via Alexa, the assistant will then offer to book a taxi ride to the event. The ticket-booking voice skill will automatically pass the event address to the taxi riding skill, saving users the effort to call up the ride-hailing skill, to look up the address and to repeat the address.
Another example is that when users ask for a recipe from AllRecipes, the assistant will suggest to print out the recipe via HP printers with connection to the HP Alexa skill.
Skills Connections has been launched for developer preview, and is currently restricted to printing skills from HP, food reservations skills of OpenTable and taxi reservation skills of Uber. More third-party voice skills will be accessible to Skills Connections in the future, according to Amazon.
Besides Skills Connections, developers can combine their voice skills with Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills and in-skill purchasing, enabling a more natural and automated voice-control experience.
It’s a big improvement for voice applications. Currently Alexa voice skills can only fulfill users’ needs when they receive queries. After being able to connect with other voice skills, they may predict users’ next requests and offer them proactively. Users don’t even need to know which voice skill they are interacting with.
In smart home applications, for instance, when users asks to open Netflix on the smart TV, the assistant can further ask whether to turn smart lights on, to activate the movie mode, or to lock the front door and turn off all lights in the hallway.
All this has to be set up by users as part of their preferred series of actions under the Routine function. But with the Skills Connections, a smart home can truly predict users’ next requirement before they ask.