Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has so many skills, it can be hard to know exactly how to activate them sometimes. But the company is building a new way for people to discover skills without having to request them specifically by name.
Amazon announced today that it’s launching a new beta feature called the CanFulfillIntentRequest interface that developers can use to make their Alexa skills more easily discoverable.
The tool uses machine learning to find skills that can help fulfill a person’s request when they don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. For example, if they ask, “Alexa, where are the best surfing spots today near Santa Barbara,” the voice assistant will scour all the various surfing skills on the platform to determine whether they can understand and help process the request.
Since the feature is still in beta, developers will have to opt-in to the new tool, and they’ll also be required to essentially spell out what their skill can do. We expect to start seeing more real world examples of this in the coming weeks and months.
On the user side of things, when you ask a question without specifying the Skill, Alexa will run it through a handful of options before routing you to the one it thinks can best answer your request. It will then tell you which skill might be able to help.
Over time, Alexa will get better at suggesting the right skills for a wider range of random questions. The eventual goal as Amazon writes in a blog post is that “customers find the right skill faster, using the search terms they say most naturally.”
We’ve reached out to Amazon to see if they can comment further, and will update this post if we hear back. In the meantime, we can’t wait to begin testing the wits of our beloved Echo devices.