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I tested out Alexa Blueprints again to see how easy it wast to get running and some of the examples. One template that I thought was interesting was “How Many Days”. I began having megalomaniacal delusions of becoming a Skill mogul just by cleverly adding content to these templates. That hasn’t happened yet.

Instead, the template again surfaced the user experience issues with Alexa Skills Kit.

The idea of the Skill is that you put in dates and labels for them and then it can tell you how many days until that date, e.g. “how many days until so-and-so’s birthday?”. However, the experience is lacking.

The opening of the Skill asks if you know the particular name of the event or if you’d like it to list out the events. If you know the event, it will then ask you to name it. Now you have to remember what the event is. Only then will it read out how long until that date.

The better experience would be “Alexa, how long until [event]?” or “Alexa, how many days until [event]?” and then Alexa would respond.

This is an issue that Google Assistant addresses with Actions but it would be interesting if there was a way for a Skill to surface information so that it could accessed generally by Alexa. Maybe there is or will be soon?

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