With more than 40,000 third-party skills for Alexa users to choose from, developers could use some help getting their particular skills in front of those users. Amazon is offering that help in the form of a new interface that lets developers describe what requests their skills can fulfill.
Amazon explained earlier that it’s using machine learning to help users discover specific Alexa skills that can fulfill their requests, even if they don’t know the name of the skill. Now, developers can input information into the new CanFulfillIntentRequest interface to augment that machine learning model.
So for instance, if a customer asks, “Alexa, where is the best surfing today near Santa Barbara?” Alexa would use CanFulfillIntentRequest to ask surfing skills whether they can understand and fulfill the request. It could then filter the results down to skills with databases of California beaches.
As Amazon noted last month, making it easier for users to discover new skills is part of Amazon’s plan for creating more natural, frictionless interactions with Alexa.
If the trends illustrated in Mary Meeker’s 2018 internet trends report are any indication, the number of Alexa skills should continue to grow at a rapid clip. Adoption of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker has also taken off, with more than 30 million installed in the US.