Amazon Echo Show update is putting Alexa skills front and center

Amazon Echo Show owners will soon see their smart devices more closely integrated with Alexa Skills, a long-standing feature of the voice assistant that adds a number of complementary applications and uses to Alexa’s repertoire.

On the Echo Show, certain skills can be displayed on the home screen depending on your preferences and voice command trends. As reported by The Nerdshala, Amazon is now opening the floodgates on Alexa skills, making the feature more widely available to third-party developers.

Aaron Rubenson, VP of Amazon Alexa Skills, referred to the skill update, saying: “It’s open for everyone to raise a hand and say they want to be a part of it. We’re letting developers raise their hand and say, ‘My skills can handle that request.'”

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Selective third-party Alexa skill cards will soon be the norm on Echo devices, and it looks like the skills you see on your Echo Show screen will be determined by your voice command habits and preferences. For example, if you frequently ask your Alexa for recipes, a special third party skill card for digital cookbooks may appear.

In addition, Alexa Skills developers will soon be allowed to sell products within their Skills app, as long as the products are available for purchase on the Amazon website. Amazon’s final introduction to the Skill family will be paid Skills, which get locked behind a paywall before a user can use them, similar to paid apps on Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

We see featured skill cards on Amazon Echo devices as potentially double-edged swords. We really like the ‘we have a skill for that’ mentality, and it can introduce users to services they may have never considered before. The chances of being discovered with skill cards are enormous, and it would be great to see smaller third-party developers hit their stride with a skill app that takes Echo users by storm.

On the other hand, featured skill cards might look seriously familiar to someone who’s used the Internet for more than five seconds—as they sound like targeted ads.

Services like Google AdSense are able to so precisely tailor online ads to our personal preferences, and it’s possible that select skill cards from Amazon may use similar technology.

We’re also wondering how intrusive the featured skill cards will be. Will they actually provide users with unique solutions to their questions, or will they be a great way to advertise Domino’s Pizza deals?

We look forward to carefully watching how these Alexa skill cards develop as Amazon makes the service more readily available to third-party developers. This could either be a revelation of convenience to smart home enthusiasts, or potentially just a barrier that acts as an intermediary between our voice commands and assistants.

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