Alexa Can Now Print Recipes, Crosswords, and Coloring Books, Committing Voice Commands to Paper
Amazon’s new Alexa Print feature extends the voice assistant into the physical realm with a slew of new commands that allow the AI to offer a physical response to a question or request. Alexa can print calendars, coloring books, recipes, and puzzles by voice command, a third dimension to the digital audio, and screen responses available on smart speakers and smart displays. The update also allows voice app developers to augment their Alexa skills with printing commands, first promised by Amazon a year ago.
There is a slew of new Alexa commands for printing now, some of which can be seen in the image above. Quite a few of them just put on paper what would be recited by Alexa vocally, or displayed on the screen of a smart display. Calendars, shopping lists, and even Sudoku games can be run digitally. What stands out are the commands that only apply to real paper. Printing lined or graph paper, and even coloring books, is a nice customization option, as putting pen or crayon to a screen is not the same as doing so on paper. Any second or third-generation Echo and compatible printer can use the new feature. Popular printer brands like Canon, HP, and Epson all added Alexa compatibility for standard documents back in 2018. This just builds on that feature. Alexa will also keep an eye on ink and toner, alerting users by email or setting up recurring orders for when the amount runs low.
The printing option extends to voice apps on the Alexa platform as well. Developers can add the option with the Alexa skill connections ability that Amazon previewed a year ago with HP and has now made generally available. The feature allows users to print recipes from specific voice apps, for instance, or the results of a voice game played by friends. It’s the same software that lets Alexa make Uber or OpenTable reservations.
“You can use skill connections in the Alexa Skills Kits (ASK) to enable customers to print images, PDFs, and web pages provided by your skills to their connected printers,” Amazon’s BJ Haberkorn explained in a blog post. “As we announced last year, skill connections enable a skill to use another skill to perform a specific task, so you can do more for your customers by extending your skill’s abilities with minimal changes.”
While printing from home may seem like an outdated concept, the COVID-19 health crisis and subsequent shutdowns and quarantine practices have made it harder for people to do their printing at the office or even go to a copy shop. If Millennials are going to start buying printers, it makes sense that Amazon would want them to be connected to the Alexa smart home ecosystem the company is building.