When Amazon launched Alexa Skill Blueprints last week, they drastically lowered the skill level required to develop new tricks for Amazon’s smart speaker. Now anyone can put their work in the Alexa Skills Store with no coding skills and only a minimum of technical knowledge.
WPTavern reports that the first round of blueprints were designed with content creators and bloggers in mind. (Since there’s no search feature on that site yet, we’ll have to take their word for it.)
It includes blueprints for personal trainers, flashcards, facts, quizzes, and a fable blueprint for storytellers. There are also new blueprints available called University and Spiritual Talks for live and recorded audio content from institutions and organizations.
One of the blueprints was created specifically for WordPress blogs. It is designed to work with the Amazon Polly WP plugin to bring audio transcriptions of blog posts to Alexa. According to Amazon’s announcement last Wednesday, the new blog blueprint converts text posts into audio and creates an audio RSS feed:
With the new Blog blueprint, bloggers who used WordPress and have installed the Amazon AI Plugin for WordPress can deliver their blog posts as audio on Alexa. The Amazon AI Plugin for WordPress is a sample application that enables WordPress bloggers to easily convert their blog posts into speech by leveraging Text-to-Speech (TTS) and translation tools provided by Amazon. Bloggers can generate an audio feed (RSS feed) for text-based blog content, and simply add this to the new Blog blueprint to create and publish their own Alexa skill.
If you want to do this on your blog, please let me know. I haven’t tried it myself yet, and I’d like to find a partner who is really invested in the idea. (I’m not sold on it yet, but I’d be happy to supply tech skills and follow your lead.)
If you do want to DIY, the first step is to install and configure the Amazon Polly plugin. Then you’ll need to set up an account to use the Amazon Polly service, and that will need to be configured with your AWS access key, secret key, and AWS region. (Amazon Polly is only free for the first year, so if you want to use it long term you will also need to plan for paying for the service.)
After you set up the plugin, you can complete the Alexa skill by customize your welcome message, giving the skill a name, and then releasing the skill in the Alexa Skills Store.
Once it is published, you can share the skill with your followers.
P.S. If you do set this up, please let me know. I’ll plug in my Echo Spot and see how usable this is.