Amazon Alexa will soon be able to suggest skills you should install if it can’t respond to a specific request.
Although Skills are one of the voice assistants main advantages, finding the right one for a particular task can be a challenge. Normally you’ll need to browse and install Skills from the official Alexa app, but this isn’t really in the spirit of the voice control that Alexa promises.
Instead, Skill developers will now be able to make use of a feature called ‘CanFulfillIntentRequest’ according to VentureBeat. What this will mean is that when you ask Alexa a question it’s unable to answer, it will use this functionality to recommend skills that might be able to help.
So while Alexa might not be able to offer public transport instructions directly, in the future it might be able to point you towards a London Underground app and let you install it without having to pull a phone out of your pocket.
Related: Which Amazon Echo should I buy?
The right skills for the job
It’s still early days for Amazon’s Skills store, and much of the content on there feels like early iPhone App fodder.
But between this functionality and giving users the ability to make purchases from within Skills, the voice apps might actually start to become profitable on their own terms, and provide a real reason for developers to invest serious money in them.
The biggest issue we’ve experienced with Alexa’s Skills aside from not being able to find them in the first place, is that lots of them use very similar voice commands. When we ask Alexa to play music on ‘Bedroom’ (the default name given by Sonos to our bedroom speaker), it will occasionally get confused and think we’re asking for music to be played on the bedroom Philips Hue light bulbs.
Likewise, it finds it difficult to distinguish between the hallway thermostat and hallway smart lights.
We’re unlikely to see a final solution to these problems until Alexa fully understands the context of different queries but, as with Alexa’s rival Google Assistant, the rate of progress since both smart speakers launched has been swift.
What’s your favourite Alexa Skill? Let us know @TrustedReviews