Customers are increasingly using voice interfaces as a hands-free way to manage their lives. Alexa provides a set of built-in list capabilities that customers use to manage their shopping and to-do lists. Last October, we announced a limited participation beta of the List Skill API, which enabled developers to create skills that connect applications directly to these list capabilities. As part of the beta program, we heard again and again that you would like to integrate your custom skills with Alexa’s shopping and to-do lists.
Introducing Lists Read and Write Permissions in Alexa Skills
Today, we are happy to announce new permissions features that allow you to read, add and delete items in Alexa’s shopping and to-do lists from within your skill. Customers on millions of Alexa devices can use Alexa’s built-in shopping and to-do lists to keep track of items to buy and things to do. This often becomes a daily habit. Now, you can make it easier for customers to keep track of their important tasks and shopping items through your skill. This feature is available worldwide for developers building skills for the US English, UK English, and German language models.
How It Works
Two new permissions features are available starting today: Lists Read and Lists Write. Lists Read permissions allows read-only access to any of the customer’s Alexa lists so that your skill can read shopping or to-do list items on command. With the new Lists Write permissions, customers can add and remove items from their Alexa lists using your skill. Later this year, we will expand our list functionality to add support for events, which ensures that your skill will know when customers add or remove items to their lists on Alexa. You will be able to understand and react to changes that happen to lists from top-level utterances on Alexa (for example: “Alexa, add bananas to my shopping list”).
If you have an existing Alexa custom skill, you can easily integrate with Alexa lists by following these steps:
- Configure your skill in the Amazon Developer Portal to indicate that it requires Lists Read or Lists Write permissions, or both.
- Devise a user intent model that uses customer Alexa lists.
- Implement the Lists Read or Lists Write permissions.
Once a customer grants permissions, your custom skill can access the customer’s Alexa shopping and to-do lists. When you add permissions to your skill, you’ll want to save the state of the customer’s previous session to ensure the customer experience is consistent when they reopen your skill and want to access or change the list. You may also want to link your system’s account to Alexa to ensure your customer has a consistent experience across devices. You can find best practices on account linking and preserving state in your Alexa skill in our technical documentation.
This is just the latest addition to the Alexa Skills Kit, a collection of self-service APIS, tools, documentations, and code samples that makes it fast an easy for you to add skills to Alexa. Leverage our resources, including this new feature, to build robust, useful skills that become a daily habit for your customers.
You can build and host most skills for free by applying for AWS promotional credits. Once you publish your skill, mark the occasion with a free, limited-edition Alexa dev shirt.