July 01, 2019Leo Ohannesian
Today we are excited to announce the general availability of Skill Connections in the Alexa Skills Kit in all current locations where Alexa is available. Skill connections enable a skill to use another skill to perform a specific task, so you can do more for your customers by extending your skill's abilities with minimal changes.
A skill connection lets you invoke a specific task provided by another skill from within your own skill so you can offload common tasks to outside providers while retaining control over your customer experience. Skill connections are available today for printing, booking a restaurant table, or arranging transportation.
Previously, you built every function within an individual skill. Now, skill connections let you request other skills to perform simple tasks that expand you own skill’s abilities. Adding a printing skill connection to your gaming skill, for example, lets your customer print the game’s all-time leaderboard. If your skill relates to dining, add a skill connection to help your customer book a table.
These five tasks are available through skill connections today:
Skills that offload tasks through skill connections are called requesters. Skill connections can pass useful context along with your request to another skill. For example, if your skill helps customers make an appointment, it can pass the address and appointment time through a connection to a taxi reservation skill to help the customer get there more easily. Your customer no longer has to relay details between separate skills, and Alexa automatically offers to enable connected skills the first time your customer needs them. You can make your skill a requester by implementing the required handlers and re-publishing it.
For example, the Allrecipes Alexa Skill helps customers print recipes with a skill connection. “Adding printing capability enhances our skill’s overall experience for customers. Now home cooks can easily print the recipes they want using the Allrecipes skill on Alexa, all within the same conversation,” says Corbin de Rubertis, VP of Innovation, Meredith Digital.
Skills that perform tasks for other skills are called providers. The current skill connection provider catalog includes HP, Epson, and Canon for printing, Uber for transportation reservations, and OpenTable for restaurant reservations. You can make your skill a provider by updating its manifest to register the skill as a provider, implementing the handler, and then resubmitting for approval through the skill certification process. 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. Implementation details and sample code are available in the documentation.
You can find additional details in the Alexa Skill Connections developer documentation, including supported connections and their schemas. Visit today to learn how to enhance your Alexa skill with skill connections.