Alexa Routines Are Now Shareable
Alexa Routines, single commands for the voice assistant linked to multiple actions, are now shareable. Amazon announced the new feature on Thursday in tandem with some examples of Routines designed by brands and online influencers for people to try. The sharing option could introduce a lot of Alexa users to Routines who have never thought about using the feature, perhaps exposing them to new Alexa Skills they might never have stumbled across otherwise.
Alexa Routines streamline using the voice assistant by setting a bunch of tasks in motion without having to break them down into multiple requests. One sentence can adjust lights, music, security systems and activate a kitchen appliance, for instance. Alexa Routines have been a feature for a few years, at first just allowing users to combine native Alexa functions into one command. Amazon expanded the choices for Alexa Routines last fall when it started allowing third-party skills to be included in the routines. Adding custom skills in routines was by far the top-voted item from Amazon’s developer community feature request site.
Users who have made Routines they are particularly proud of or who come up with an idea for someone they know can now share it as quickly as sending a website link. The Routines menu in the Alexa app now includes a share option for each routine, turning it into a URL to post on social media or send in a text message or email. Those interested in it can open the URL on a device with the Alexa app and enable the Routine’s elements, including customizing it based on their own smart home device setup. Amazon showcased a few examples of shareable Routines built by brands like NPR and Headspace and influencers like personal trainer Gunnar Peterson.
“Routines are hugely popular among Alexa customers, and now it’s super easy to share your most useful Routines with others,” Alexa vice president Toni Reid said in a blog post about the new feature. “So if you have a Routine that reminds you to stretch, and plays relaxing music every afternoon, you can share that with your friends. I’m excited for customers to try this feature and hope this makes their Alexa experience even better.”
The sharing option also ups the competition between Alexa Routines, Siri Shortcuts, and Google Assistant’s Action Blocks. While they all incorporate ways of binding multiple actions to a single command, they’re pitched in different ways. Siri Shortcuts are aimed mainly at iOS users but have been sharable for a while, and there’s an entire directory for them that people can search through, something Alexa lacks. Google’s Action Blocks, meanwhile, mimic Shortcuts but were initially built as an accessibility tool for people with disabilities. Google Assistant took a completely separate approach to routines for smart home devices, announcing this summer that device manufacturers can publish Assistant routines combining their own device and those from brands they partner with but lack any user-generated option.