Is Amazon Building an Alexa Skill Voice-Search Engine?

One area of friction for Alexa skill engagement is discovery and surprisingly, there is still no advanced voice-search feature to discover new skills. Even Amazon’s own skill to fix the problem, the “Skill Finder” app, does not allow users to ask for a skill by use case or functionality. The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) decided to fix this problem by creating its own voice-search engine for Alexa skills with a skill called “Skill Search.” You can ask the skill “Alexa, tell me about airport wait times” or “Alexa, I’d like to meditate” and she will give you a lists of skills to enable that can help answer the question. You can see a demo in the video below.


Amazon and Alexa Skills Need Voice Search

The demo clearly illustrates the superiority of “Skill Search” versus Alexa for skill discovery. But according to Tech Crunch, Amazon rejected AI2’s skill. When Tech Crunch reached out to Amazon for clarification about why the skill was rejected, the company cited article 4a from its policy page:

Your skill will be rejected or suspended if it: …

4. Purchasing and Currencies

a. Offers a separate skill store or recommends other skills.

So Amazon has a valid reason for rejecting the skill as it clearly recommends other skills. It makes sense why Amazon would want full control over how skill discovery is handled in the Alexa store as there is revenue to be made from voice search. For instance, “Skill Search” could ask for compensation from skill developers to be the first skill listed for a specific search.

Hopefully this means that Amazon is working on its own voice-search engine for Alexa skills as it should. The number of Alexa skills is a clear differentiator for its Alexa-enabled devices versus its competitors, like Google Home and Cortana, who still lag far behind in this category. Facilitating the discovery of Alexa skills can improve the user experience and increase overall engagement, which could also help developers who are looking to monetize their skills (especially game developers.)

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