Create Custom Connected Skill Experiences with Tasks (Preview) and Direct Skill Connections

Leo Ohannesian Dec 12, 2019
Productivity Product Launches

Today, we are excited to announce that you can now create custom tasks (preview) to expose functionality from your skill to other Alexa skills. Custom tasks are a way to turn any part of your skill into a re-usable customer-facing operation and allow other skills to connect to it. For instance, you can now expose part of your game skill for other games to use, like a streak counter. Similarly, if you’re a hotel-booking skill, you can expose hotel booking to any other skill.

With this, we are also excited to announce an expansion to Skill Connections called Direct Connections. Direct connections are used in order to connect a skill to a custom task. As a reminder, Amazon-defined tasks were announced a few months ago along with Managed Connections, where Alexa surfaces provider skills to requester skills based on multiple signals, including the provider skill’s popularity, regional availability, and the customer’s most recent use. Direct connections allow you to better control the experience for your customers, whether it be with custom or Amazon-defined tasks.

There are now boundless capabilities for you to create cross-skill experiences as a skill developer. For example, if you develop a game skill, you can connect to other games you have developed to provide a continuous experience or a hotel reservation skill that is in theme with the game. You can search for any available task that other developers have exposed by using the CLI. Skills can now work in conjunction and support one another in a developer-defined way.

In summary, with Skill Connections you can now:

  • Connect to a custom task defined by you or another skill developer (direct connection)
  • Connect to an Amazon-defined task and let Alexa choose the best task provider for your customer (managed connection).

Child-directed and HIPPA skills are not eligible send or receive connections. 

Use Custom Tasks to Create Your Own Connected Experience

A task is a single unit of experience that can be exposed to customers. To date, task providers, or developers who expose parts of their skills for others to use, have been limited to the set of Amazon-defined tasks described above. Starting today, you can create and connect to custom tasks (preview) that are defined by you or another skill developer. Tasks can be used for many reasons in skill development. One reason is to allow other skills to borrow functionality from your skill. With custom tasks, this can now be any skill functionality, not just the Amazon-defined task functionality. Another reason to expose functionality as a task provider is to provide better encapsulation and code reuse when you have multiple skills that leverage the same functionality. With custom tasks, you can now create one set of code that you use in all your skills. To find out more about defining a custom task, visit our technical documentation.

Start Using Direct Connections and Custom Tasks Today

With the latest enhancements to Alexa Skill Connections, you get more control to create cross-skill experiences in a way you define. For instance, multi brand enterprises can now create experiences that stay within their brand. Further, you now get more flexibility in what a task can do, opening connections up to more task providers and requesters. Finally, with custom tasks (preview) you can now reuse a task from of one of your skills within all of your skills, which reduces your development effort through a component model. Since custom tasks are still in preview, you will need to apply to be whitelisted to create custom tasks by visiting our documentation. Some skills have been pre-approved.

Visit our technical documentation to start building connected skill experiences today!

If you need support while building custom tasks or implementing direct connections, please visit our developer forum. Make sure to tag your post with "Custom Tasks" and "Direct Connections".