Amazon has always been quite open about letting third party developers create skills for its Alexa virtual assistant, but now it's just made it even easier to build something for yourself. Alexa Blueprints will let anyone develop skills for Alexa, and they don't even need to learn how to code first.
Essentially the system works by sending you through a series of templates that will walk you through the entire process, letting you develop games, learning tools, stories, and more. All the legwork gets done by Amazon, with the creator simply needing to type out a form with all the things it wants Alexa to include. That means questions people might ask Alexa, and all the answers she'll respond with. Here's a video Amazon has kindly made to show how easy the whole process is:
This means your Echo can be a far more personal, and arguably useful tool because it's not limited to the information provided by third party developers. If you have a child that's revising for exams, the flash card or quizzing skills Blueprints has to offer would be invaluable. Similarly it has templates for babysitters, petsitters, and house guests, so you can store important information in your Echo should the need arise.
The downside at the moment is that Blueprints is only available in US English, so you're going to have to change the language settings if you want to give it a go. Presumably, like other Alexa features, Amazon will be rolling it out internationally in the coming weeks and months. [Amazon via The Next Web]