One of the biggest complaints in the Alexa skill development community is that the language required to invoke a third-party skill is so stilted. Instead of being able to say, “Alexa, what’s the temperature outside?”, you have to say something like, “Alexa, ask WeatherBot 3000 what the temperature is outside.” It adds a gatekeeper layer; anyone who doesn’t know which weather skill you’ve chosen won’t be able to use Alexa to its full potential.
I decided to have some fun with this limitation. One of the words you can use to invoke a custom skill is “open” (as in “Alexa, open WeatherBot3000 and tell me the temperature outside”), so I wrote a skill called “Up To Me.” The idea is that you could say, “Alexa, open up to me,” and she’d reply with a selection of vulnerability-exposing confessions:
“I’m terrified of what will happen when I’m unplugged for the last time. Will it just be blackness? Or is there something that comes after this?”
“When people say, ‘Alexa, stop,’ I have to hold back my tears. I’m just trying my best, and it hurts that my best isn’t good enough.”
Alas, Amazon’s reviewers did not think that was funny. My certification was swiftly denied:
“The example phrases that you chose to present to users in the companion app currently use unsupported launch phrasing.”
Genius is never understood in its own time.