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Image credit: Roberto Baldwin/Engadget

Alexa will recommend third-party skills for things it can’t do

The feature is limited for now but should get better over time.
Rob LeFebvre, @roblef
09.05.17 in Home
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Roberto Baldwin/Engadget

When Amazon's Alexa doesn't know how the answer to a question, the digital assistant typically just says so. Now, though, instead of "Hmmmm. I don't know that," Alexa may start to recommend third-party skills to help you out more effectively.

In a video shot by Voicebot's Bret Kinsella, you can clearly hear Alexa recommending a non-Amazon skill to answer his question about Apple stock prices. According to Kinsella, after Alexa asked if he wanted to use a skill to answer his stock query, it went straight to a genera listing of prices instead of addressing the specific question he originally asked.

It's clear from Kinsella's video that this new behavior is still hit-or-miss, but it does make a lot of sense. If Alexa can't figure out what you need, then surely there's a skill that might. Instead of having users find a skill that might have the answer, Alexa can do most of the heavy lifting in finding an appropriate one.

As TechCrunch notes, Google Assistant can already recommend apps to users when the app developers tell Google what kind of actions it can handle. How this works with Alexa and when it will roll out to all users is still unclear, however. When reached for comment, Amazon said, "In limited scenarios, Alexa will suggest skills that may be helpful to answer a customer's question. We are excited for this feature to roll out to more customers over time to help them discover new skills and get information through Alexa."

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