Use Amazon's new Skill Blueprints to do amazing new things with your Echo device, like create custom commands.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
In the meantime, let's walk through creating your own. It's not hard, and Amazon guides you through pretty much every step of the process, but a quick tutorial may help.
For starters, and it probably goes without saying, you'll need at least one Alexa-enabled device. (Once you've created a skill, it'll be accessible on any and all devices registered to your account.)
Next, head to the Skill Blueprints page -- and consider bookmarking it, because this is where you'll come to add future Blueprints and manage the ones you have.
A great one to start with is Custom Q&A, which lets you set up answers to any questions you care to ask. Although you could use this for any number of practical purposes -- "Alexa, what's that password I'm always forgetting?" -- the potential here for fun and mischief is downright limitless.
Head to the Custom Q&A page, check out the provided samples, then click Make Your Own. You'll see a list of questions and answers already filled in; just replace any or all of them as you wish. Amazon says to limit yourself to about 10 words, but I was able to go longer -- for the answers, anyway.
Of particular interest, if your question is one that already exists in Alexa's database, the answer you supply here will supplant the stock answer. (Again: soooo much potential for mischief, here.)
When you're done, just click Next to finalize the Blueprint. This particular skill doesn't require you to preface it by saying, "Alexa, open such-and-such skill." Instead, you just ask your questions.
If you want to make changes, return to the Skill Blueprints page, click Skills You've Made, choose the one you want to modify, then click Edit.
Which Blueprint is your favorite, and what would you like to see Amazon add down the road? Let me know in the comments.
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