Amazon this morning announced a new way for customers to use Alexa’s skills – together, in combined requests. That is, you can start a request in one skill, then have it fulfilled in another. For example, the AllRecipes skill can now connect the HP skill in order to print out recipes for customers, Amazon says.
This is the first of many combined skills to come.
Skill Connections, as the developer-facing feature is called, can initially be used to take three types of actions – printing, booking a reservation, or booking a ride.
That means future skills could allow you to book a concert ticket through a skill, then connect to a taxi skill to find you a ride to the show. The idea is that customer wouldn’t have to separately invoke the different skills to complete the one task they wanted to accomplish (i.e., going to a show), or repeat information. Instead, data is passed from one skill to the next.
This isn’t the first time Alexa has tried to tie skills together in some way, but it is the first time it actually allowed two skills to talk to one another. Previously, Alexa was making game recommendations when customers exited a skill, as a means of exposing Alexa users to new content they may like. But this was more of a nudge to launch another skill, not a direct connection between the two.
Skill Connections is launching into a developer preview starting today. During this testing period, printing will be provided by a skill from HP, food reservations will be provided by OpenTable, and taxi reservations will be provided by Uber. Epson and Canon will soon provide prints services as well, Amazon notes.
Developers who are accepted into the preview could do things like offer to print a game’s leaderboard using the HP skill, or book a taxi to a spot where you’ve made a reservation, Amazon also suggests. To be considered, developers first have to fill out a survey.
Developers can apply either to connect their skill to those from HP, OpenTable or Uber, or they can apply to provide services to other skills. The feature will remain in testing for now, with a public launch planned for a later, but yet unknown date.