More Alexa ‘blueprints’ arrive, offering customizable voice apps for families and roommates
Earlier this year, Amazon rolled out a new feature that allowed Alexa device owners to create their own custom skills using preconfigured templates. Today, Amazon is expanding Alexa Blueprints, as the service is called, to include a handful of new templates designed for families and roommates.
These include a chore chart template, a house rules template for roommates, and others.
The Chore Chart template allows families to schedule and track children’s weekly chores, and even lets multiple kids (or anyone, really) compete to see who has done the most. Parents first configure the skill with a list of weekly chores and who those chores are assigned to.
Throughout the week, the kids can log their completed chores by asking Alexa. (“Alexa, ask Chore Chart to log a chore.”). Anyone can then check the progress by asking for the “Chore Score.”
Another blueprint is a variation on the existing “houseguest” and “babysitter” templates, which let you fill in useful information about the home, like where to find the TV remote or what the Wi-Fi password is, for example. The new “Roommate” blueprint, available now, lets you program in other information about the house, like the “house rules.”
You can have Alexa nag users to turn off the lights or run the dishwasher when they ask for the “house rules” for a given room. This passive aggressive roommate shaming system may not be the most useful – unless maybe used to poke fun – however, the template also lets you program in other important contacts, like the landlord or building manager.
The two other new blueprints are more lighthearted in nature.
One, “Whose Turn,” will have Alexa either randomly pick whose turn it is to take on a particular task – like walking the dog – or she can pick from the next name in the list, depending on how it’s configured.
Similarly, the “What To Do” skill will let Alexa make the decision when you’re stumped about what activity to do next. Alexa can pick what movie or TV show to watch from a list you configure, and can even suggest what’s for dinner, if you program in a list of favorite meals. This is also clearly intended more for parents with kids, who like to incorporate Alexa into family discussions and activities, as a third-party arbitrator of disputes, so to speak.
Many of the existing blueprints are already family-friends, like the family jokes, trivia, and stories. Amazon said in June that Alexa Skill Blueprints’ adoption has been higher than expected, when it introduced a way for people to share their custom blueprints with others.
The new blueprints are live now, bringing the total number of customizable skills to 41.