Amazon opens up Alexa store for anyone to create and publish custom skills


Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon is now letting anyone create and publish Alexa skills into the Alexa skills store. Amazon first made it easy to create custom skills last year with its Alexa Skill Blueprints program, and it’s taking those custom responses and allowing them to be published in the store for everyone to download and use. There are currently more than 80,000 existing Alexa skills in the store, but today’s announcement means the store will be growing significantly with user-generated custom skills.

Amazon is primarily aiming this new functionality at content creators, businesses, brands, and other organizations. Publications, local sports teams, YouTubers, and others will all be able to broadcast their latest updates by simply adding a recorded audio feed URL to a blueprint skill directly and then publishing it on the store. This will allow Alexa users to add these as Flash Briefings to request the latest information by asking, “Alexa, what’s the news?”

Bloggers using WordPress with the Amazon AI plugin will also be able to automatically publish their blog posts as audio on Alexa through an RSS feed. Even universities or religious organizations could make live or recorded audio available on Alexa devices. There are a variety of Skill Blueprints to choose from, although you’re limited to the sandbox Amazon is offering. Amazon will also review and then publish skills to its store, so your custom joke responses about your favorite football teams won’t be making their way through. Amazon is excluding custom responses from being published to the store.

This does greatly improve the scope for Amazon’s Blueprint-generated skills, as they were previously tied to your own Amazon account. Now, anyone can create fun trivia games and share them with the entire Alexa skill marketplace. It’s simple and accessible for everyone, and you can create these skills in a matter of minutes. It will now be interesting to see exactly how Amazon controls what is and isn’t allowed in its Alexa skill store.

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